The goal for Special Olympics Alberta-Edmonton is simple: put athletes at the forefront of the movement and one of the people leading this initiative is Board Chair, Anita Norris.
Anita became aware of Special Olympics in high school after attending a track and field meet in her community, and immediately she was drawn to the passion, enthusiasm, and effort of the athletes.
“I feel like Special Olympics athletes are an inspiration for everyone,” said Anita. “They encompass the values and philosophy that should be paramount in all sport, no matter what the level. We can all look to Special Olympics athletes to reinforce those guiding principles… joy, passion, attitude, and effort.”
Having a strong background in sport as both an athlete and a coach, along with a passion for Special Olympics, Anita decided to get involved with the Edmonton affiliate.
She registered as a basketball coach in 2019 and just a few months later she was named the SOA-Edmonton Chair.
“Given the timing of COVID, the only group event I have attended was the send-off celebration for our athletes that went to compete at Nationals,” said Anita. “This one event alone confirmed my belief that Special Olympics is an organization I will be a part of for a long time.”
Taking on the role has been a unique challenge for Anita, given that programs have been suspended for over a year, but she has maintained the vision to keep athletes front and center in Edmonton.
“Anita is one of those people that when you meet her, you instantly feel the impact she makes on the world; we are so lucky to have her be involved with the Special Olympics Edmonton community,” said Celina Comeau, SOA-Edmonton General Manager.
SOA-Edmonton has been dedicated and creative in providing virtual opportunities, programs, and fundraisers to stay connected with their athletes.
One of the events that combined all the above was the Can’t Beat Us campaign that raised over $70,000 in support of Special Olympics in Edmonton.
Volvo of Edmonton partnered with the affiliate to donate funds and highlight athletes on their billboards across the city.
“Connecting our athletes with the community as much and as creatively as possible really made this something special,” said Anita. “We are so excited to continue our partnership with Volvo of Edmonton and a spinoff effect of the Can’t Beat Us Campaign has led to the creation of other relationships and partnership opportunities that will fuel the growth of SOE.”
Anita is looking to continue their athlete-centric approach as they aim to expand their membership and program opportunities when it is safe to return to play.
“A message to our athletes and their families would be firstly, thank you for being so supportive. Not only with the Can’t Beat Us Campaign, but overall, having the determination and positive attitude through very difficult times. I can’t wait to celebrate our return.”
Volunteers like Anita have made such a difference for our athletes over the past year, and like her, we cannot wait to celebrate with you all on the field!
April 18-24 marks National Volunteer Week, and this year we want to emphasize how important our volunteers are to us by spotlighting them throughout the month. Profiles will be released Tuesdays and Thursdays to recognize people who continue to make an impact in the lives of our athletes.
Visit https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/abvolunteer-week/ to see everything we have planned for the month including events, profiles, videos, and a message board where you can share a message with a volunteer who has made an impact in your life.
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to begin your journey with Special Olympics Alberta!