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Special Olympics Canada Announces its 25th Annual 2013 National Award Recipients


Toronto (October , 2013) – Special Olympics Canada is honoured to announce the winners of this year’s Special Olympics Canada National Awards, to be presented on Thursday November 14, 2013 at Toronto’s iconic Glenn Gould Studio. The National Awards Program, currently in its 25th year, highlights the achievements of athletes, coaches and volunteers, who have made a difference in the Special Olympics movement. Special Olympics Canada is thrilled to recognize the honourees and graciously thank them for their efforts.

The full list of Special Olympics Canada National Award winners is as follows:

Athlete of the Year – Female: Ellen MacNearney  Montague, PEI
Over the past year, Ellen has showcased her impressive athleticism by competing in a variety of sports like swimming, athletics and softball. Her greatest achievement came at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, where she won both a Gold and Bronze medal in Nordic Skiing, despite not having any snow courses to train on prior to the Games.

Athlete of the Year – Male: Tim Goodacre   Dundas, ON
Tim’s involvement with Special Olympics has spanned 14 years, where he has participated in everything from powerlifting to athletics to figure skating. At this year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea, Tim won two medals in figure skating. His medal performances at two consecutive world championships, at increasingly difficult levels, highlights his drive and commitment to improve and excel in the sport.

Team of the Year – Saskatoon Stingers  Saskatoon, SK
The 2013 Team of the Year is being given to the Saskatoon Stingers, who were crowned national floor hockey champions at the 2012 National Winter Games in St. Albert, Alberta, as well as winning a Gold medal at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea.

Coach of the Year – Female: Tracey Robertson  Yellowknife, NT
Tracey first began volunteering with Special Olympics 15 years ago, and has been going strong ever since. For the past 7 years, Tracey has been the head coach of the Northwest Territories (NT) swim program. Throughout her time as head coach, Tracey has led her team at three Provincial and two National Games. She has demonstrated her commitment by providing additional training for NT swimmers who have been selected to attend World Games.

Coach of the Year – Male: Calvin Dyck  Prince George, BC
Calvin has been a fixture as head coach of the cross country ski program in Prince George for the past 8 years. Throughout his years as head coach, he has brought the team to both Provincial and National championships. This past year, en route to a competition, the bus carrying Calvin’s team was in an unfortunate accident, killing the oncoming vehicle’s driver. Calvin showed tremendous poise and leadership throughout the incident, ensuring all of his athletes were safely accounted for and ultimately leading them to the competition, allowing them to compete.

Canada Life Special Olympics Festival Volunteer of the Year – Don Burke  Ottawa, ON
Don Burke and his law firm, Kelly Santini LLP, have demonstrated their commitment to the Special Olympics movement through their support of both provincial and national festivals. Don and his team have raised more than $150,000 through festival events in Ottawa, supporting Special Olympics athletes in the Ottawa region.

Jim Thompson Award – Karen Theriault  Delta, BC
Karen’s involvement with Special Olympics began 17 years ago, and has subsequently filled close to every role within her local program. She has been the Chair for the annual Surrey Soccer Tournament and has served as Team Manager for teams attending Provincial, National and World games. Karen’s exceptional leadership and athlete-centered approach have earned her the admiration and respect of athletes, coaches and volunteers alike.

Rob Plunkett Law Enforcement Torch Run Award – Brian Snyder  Cornwall, ON
Brian began contributing to the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run over 25 years ago. Since then he has served as a runner, the Eastern Route Coordinator, and Zone Coordinator. In 1996, Brian co-chaired the Ontario Provincial Spring Games that subsequently raised $800,000, the first Games to turn a profit. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment was sitting on the LETR Advisory Committee with Rob Plunkett, for whom this award is named. Over the years, Brian’s innovative fundraising efforts have helped raise millions of dollars for the Special Olympics movement in Canada.

Special Olympics Canada Award Winners are recognized for their service between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. Honourees will be presented with their awards on November 14, 2013 at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.