5 May 2024

Drag icons throw their support behind Illawarra Paralympians

| Zoe Cartwright
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Iconic Illawarra drag queens Roxee Horror and Ellawarra will host a bingo night to fundraise for Wollongong Paralympians.

Iconic Illawarra drag queens Roxee Horror and Ellawarra will host a bingo night to fundraise for Wollongong Paralympians. Photo: Roxee Horror.

Illawarra drag queens Roxee Horror and Ellawarra have thrown their support behind a trio of Wollongong Paralympians – and you can too.

Three months out from the 2024 Paralympic Games the Just Better Care Roller Hawks and Illawarra Hawks have teamed up for a fundraiser to help Luke Pople, Tristan Knowles and Shawn Russel make their way to Paris.

Making it to the Paralympics requires dedication, countless training sessions and extended time off work. As non-professional full-time athletes, all that work comes at a cost.

To help make those sacrifices a little easier, an outrageous night of entertainment and fun will be held at the Steelers Club on Friday 10 May.

Iconic Illawarra drag queens Roxee Horror and Ellawarra will host ‘Rolling Bingo’ – but this isn’t your nanna’s game.

Roxee Horror explains.

“It’s going to be a bit ruder and cruder than nanna’s bingo – we’re a little bit naughty,” she said.

“We do push the boundaries a bit but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause.

“If you can play normal bingo, you can play drag queen bingo – just get ready for your ears to get abused, open your pockets, have fun and remember to mark off every bloody number!”

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Luke Pople, a longtime member of the Roller Hawks, combines his basketball passion with his work at the Illawarra Hawks as a graphic designer and content manager.

Paris will be Pople’s first Paralympics.

“It will be a massive honour to be able to pull on the Australian jersey at my first Paralympics, especially being there with guys that have been a part of my journey from the start, being Sticky, T and Huss,” he said.

“I’m lucky in that my work is very supportive of my basketball, especially with going away for extended periods of time and allowing me to work while I’m away.”

Post bingo the trio will have a full schedule of basketball, starting in June with a week-long trip to North Carolina with the Rollers for warm-up games against the USA.

“We had a tournament there about 10 years ago,” Pople said.

“It was cool; it was my first time in the States. We played in a high school gym like you’d see on ESPN.”

The boys will fly back just in time for the start of the National Wheelchair Basketball League season on 15 June.

A break in the schedule on the first weekend of July will see the Rollers fly to Melbourne for Ballin’ 24, a basketball festival featuring the Rollers, Gliders, Boomers, Opals and Gangurrus.

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“In July we have some games at John Cain Arena against Team Japan that will double up as our last selection camp so they will be some great opportunities to play some more games before we head over to Paris,” Pople said.

“We will all be there together playing at John Cain, so hopefully we will all be able to get together and cheer each other on.

“It’s the first time in a long time that all the Australian teams have been in one location, so to be able to be in that environment with all those great athletes, able bodied and wheelchair, will be a great experience.”

From there the NWBL resumes, culminating in finals at Shellharbour City Stadium on 10 and 11 August ahead of the Paralympics which begin on 28 August.

Pople is encouraging Roller Hawks and basketball fans alike to show their support, starting with Rolling Bingo on 10 May.

“Having the support from everyone that is attending will be great,” he said.

“Knowing we have not just financial support but actually having genuine support from the community, our friends and family will go a long way to help us be successful.”

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