A group of young basketball players from a northern Manitoba community are getting the royal treatment at an Ontario tournament, with a special appearance from the Toronto Raptors.
The Gods Lake Narrows School's girls' team is in the Big Smoke to participate in the Gladiators Cup Tournament, after raising more than $17,000 to get there.
"I feel like I can do anything in life now, because it was my dream to come to Toronto," said Holly Mason, one of the 18 players on the team, which ranges from age 11 to 16. "Ever since [coach] Kishma told us about this trip, I was so excited for this."
Mason and her teammates travelled to Toronto from the fly-in community, about 550 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, after a successful GoFundMe campaign which was started by math teacher and basketball coach Kishma Davidson.
"It's been great," Davidson said of the trip so far, which includes a Canada Goose factory tour, a visit to the CN Tower, a Toronto Raptors game and a practice with Raptors player Cory Joseph.
"Once we got off the flight, they were crying of joy because they were ecstatic," she added.
Davidson spearheaded the campaign in November after one of the players on the team took her own life.
"The basketball is the reason that it all started but after losing this student, it's become more than basketball; it's about life," Davidson told CBC News at the time.
Donors for the team included Canada Goose, Manitobah Mukluks and Ontario Basketball.