Leonka Kaluha and the Holiday Cup of Cocoa

Leonka Kaluha and the 2021 SOA Holiday Card

Thank you to everyone who submitted their wonderful designs for our annual holiday card contest. We had 33 entries this year and we will be sharing some amazing artwork from athletes across Alberta throughout the holidays!

This year’s winner was Leonka Kaluha from Special Olympics Alberta-Calgary who drew a Special Olympics Cup of Cocoa to be shared with friends and family while they're just chillin' this winter! Her art will be featured as our official 2021 digital holiday card.

Leonka answered some questions about her art, the holidays, and her journey with Special Olympics. Congratulations, Leonka!

1. When did you start participating in Special Olympics and why did you decide to sign up?

I started in 2002, as I wanted to learn new sports and meet new friends; grow in my confidence, skills and abilities.

2. Which is your favourite sport? Why?

I enjoy all my sports, but lately, Athletics has taken the lead as my favourite. I am learning new skills and although on the track we compete against others, we also work to improve our personal bests.

3. What are you doing to stay active, healthy, and connected during this time?

I have been going on walks doing stretches. I have done the PEAK Program 4 times, climbing Mt Everest each time as well as other virtual events with Special Olympics and the LETR. I have also been doing Art Zoom workshops with National Access Art Centre and video chats with friends.

4. What was your inspiration for this beautiful painting?

I love drinking hot chocolate with friends and family, sharing conversations and memories, especially on cold winter days whether safely in-person or while video chatting.

5. What does it mean to you to have your artwork featured as the Special Olympics Alberta holiday card?

[It's] AMAZING! I am honoured and thrilled to have my card selected.

6. What is your favourite part of the holidays?

Spending time with family and friends (when safe to do so), making homemade cards and treats for neighbours while listening to Christmas music. [Also] going for drives and enjoying the festive lights.

7. What is your favourite carol?

Believe - Josh Groban (Polar Express Soundtrack)

8. What is your favourite holiday movie?

Polar Express, but Elf is right there as well!

9. Do you have a message for everyone for the holidays?

I hope that everyone has both a magical and joyful holiday, staying warm and safe!

10. What would you say to another athlete who was interested in joining Special Olympics?

What are you waiting for, joining Special Olympics will find you new friends, discover skills and abilities you didn’t know you had, and you will feel better as you stay active.

11. Anything else you would like to add?

Special Olympics has been life-changing for me in many ways. I use to hate myself for having a disability and not feel accepted. Not anymore!  I love who I am, growing and changing thanks to Special Olympics!