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Celebrating champions: Special Olympics Canada announces 2012 Special Olympics Canada Award honourees

Special Olympics Canada announced names of the athletes, coaches, and volunteers the organization is honouring at its annual awards celebration on November 29, 2012. Now in its 24th year, the Special Olympics Canada Awards recognize the organization’s champions from the athletes who achieved medal-winning performances to the men and women who mentor and support the growth of this movement.


The recipients of the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Awards are:

Athlete of the Year – Female: Elisha Donaghey-Johnston  Oakville, Ontario

Torchbearer for North America at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece Elisha is a highly-accomplished rhythmic gymnast. She went from being a level three rhythmic gymnastics performer at the World Games in Greece, to now training in level four, the highest level of competition. She is the first Special Olympics athlete to receive an athletic scholarship from the Oakville Sports Hall of Fame because of her athletic achievements.


Athlete of the Year – Male: Jeremy Mueller  St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador

Jeremy demonstrates the true spirit of a Special Olympics athlete, always encouraging and cheering on other athletes whether he is racing with them or against them. He won four gold medals in snowshoeing at the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in St. Albert, Alberta, with some of the best races of his career.


Team of the Year – PEI Curling Team  Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

In less than 10 years, through dedication and commitment to the sport that they love, the PEI Curling Team became the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games gold medal winners in St. Albert, Alberta. This team was also named PEI Team of the Year by the Prince Edward Island Curling Association, bringing great pride to all islanders.


Coach of the Year – Female: Kelly Edwards  Calgary, Alberta

Kelly started as a Special Olympics volunteer in 1986, holding the position of head coach in swimming for 15 years and also serving as a high performance coach mentor since 2008. She is praised for consistently displaying a high level of commitment, enthusiasm and compassion. Kelly is always available to consult with parents, volunteers, and athletes and demonstrates qualities of a true leader.


Coach of the Year – Male: Michel Guyon   Varennes, Quebec

Michel is a natural leader who strives to improve the lives of Special Olympics athletes through participation in sport. He is always available to help in any sport and excels in coaching athletics and alpine skiing. Michel established a new development program that all athletes now follow, demonstrating significant progress in their athletic ability.


Festival Volunteer of the Year – Daniel Granger  Montreal, Quebec

A Special Olympics Quebec volunteer and board member for over 15 years, and the President of Special Olympics Quebec since 2005, Daniel has displayed his dedication and tireless efforts towards  enhancing the lives of children and adults with an intellectual disability. Daniel is recognized for raising the profile of Special Olympics Quebec and helping to generate annual net profits of more than half a million dollars for the Special Olympics Quebec Festival every year since 2005.


Jim Thompson Award – Cathy Mason Stellarton, Nova Scotia

Cathy has demonstrated her exceptional dedication as a Special Olympics volunteer for two decades. She has been a coach with Team Nova Scotia at four national games; as mission staff with Team Nova Scotia at three national games, with Team Canada’s floor hockey team in 2009, and Team Canada’s power lifting team in 2011. Cathy will be attending the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea this January as mission staff for Team Canada’s cross-country ski team.


In addition to her coaching, for over 18 years, Cathy has held the position of Regional Coordinator for Special Olympics Pictou County. Through her strong leadership, she has recruited many athletes, coaches, committee members, and volunteers which in turn have touched the lives of thousands in her community.


Named in honour of the late Jim Thompson, a founding partner of TSN and a longtime friend to Special Olympics, this award is presented to a volunteer who has contributed significantly to the movement, and who best exemplifies the spirit, philosophy, and goals of the organization.


Rob Plunkett Law Enforcement Torch Run Award – Mike Currie Chatham, Ontario

Constable Mike Currie has been involved in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for 24 years and is regarded as one of Ontario’s most influential LETR representatives. He is respected as a role model for all participants because of his long-standing commitment to LETR and Special Olympics.


Inducted into the Special Olympics Ontario Hall of Fame in 1992, Constable Currie is lauded as one of the most successful fundraisers for LETR in Ontario. He was a member of the first torch run operations committee in Ontario, and was awarded the John Carion “Unsung Hero” Memorial Award from the international Torch Run Committee in 1998.


Harry “Red” Foster Award- Frank Selke  Islington, Ontario

Since joining Special Olympics Canada in 1969, Frank has been a strong advocate for individuals with an intellectual disability. He served on the Board of Special Olympics Ontario in the mid-1980s and as Chair in 1988. He is praised for the development of a sustainable corporate sponsorship base for both Special Olympics Ontario and Special Olympics Canada, which allowed for the development and delivery of many programs throughout the province and country. Frank served on the national board of directors from 1990 to 2001 and accepted the position of Executive Vice-President with Special Olympics Canada in 1992 until his retirement in June 2012.


Frank has been instrumental in the successful growth of Special Olympics in Canada over the last 43 years thanks to his tremendous and unique ability to share and embody the spirit, philosophy and goals of the movement.


Honourees are recognized for their achievements between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. The awards will be presented at an evening celebration that will be held at the Glenn Gould Studio on Thursday, November 29, 2012.