Special Olympics BC's 43rd season of year-round sport, youth, and health programs has now resumed after a restful holiday season!
Special Olympics BC athletes and volunteers are looking forward to a year of meeting new friends and reaching personal goals. Athlete Reporters have been interviewing athletes and volunteers in communities across the province, hearing their favourite memories from 2023 and their hopes for the year ahead.
Join our joyful community and change lives, including yours.
Athlete Reporter Micheal Oswald, SOBC – Sunshine Coast
Special Olympics BC athlete and author Micheal Oswald sat down with Pat Stuart, Secretary for SOBC – Sunshine Coast, who has been involved with Special Olympics as a volunteer for 18 years.
Stuart talked about the difficulties rebuilding after the pandemic. "We've lost a lot of athletes and a lot of coaches," she said. "My goal is to find some new volunteers and some new athletes. It would be nice to have some new people join Special Olympics – Sunshine Coast!"
Athlete Reporter Claire Lemaire, SOBC – Creston
From SOBC – Creston, Athlete Reporter, Claire Lemaire, and volunteer Corinne Lemaire reflected on what they are most looking forward to in 2024.
‘’We are both excited to volunteer at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024 in Calgary. We are looking forward to meeting athletes, families, coaches, volunteers, and staff from all over Canada. As a Health Messenger and Health Messenger mentor, we will be part of the Healthy Athletes Check-in, Check-out crew. We will also cheer on the Special Olympics athletes at the Opening Ceremony and during some of the competitions. As volunteers and friends, this will be an awesome and very exciting new experience for both of us.’’
Athlete Reporter David Johnston, SOBC – Dawson Creek
In Dawson Creek, Athlete Reporter David Johnston spoke to fellow athlete Dara Watson. Watson is most looking forward to making new friends this year!
Athlete Reporter Sheenagh Morrison, SOBC – Victoria
SOBC – Victoria Athlete Reporter Sheenagh Morrison interviewed athlete Jen Ferrier, who shared that her goal is to qualify for the next Provincial Games.
Athlete Reporter Torben Schuffert, SOBC – Smithers
From SOBC – Smithers, Athlete Reporter Torben Schuffert spoke with snowshoeing coaches Joanne Bozek and Sandra Schuffert on their highlights from 2023, and what they were most looking forward to in the year ahead. See below!
Torben: What are your proudest moments of 2023, and how did it make you feel?
Joanne: There were several highlights in 2023. I was very proud of being included in the Shine Together celebration, our small Local being recognized at the provincial and national levels with [Torben] being awarded SOBC Athlete of the Year and nominated for National Athlete of the Year, and Gale being awarded SOBC and National Coach of the Year, and the awesome effort and enthusiasm our SO Tyhee Lake Triathlon team demonstrated before, during and after the race.
If I had to choose one, it would be the Shine Together celebration. Watching the video for the first time, I was very emotional. I felt so proud of you for spearheading the project and composing a very moving song, and the other SO athletes for their participation. I felt very privileged to know a group of people that came together to spread a message of inclusivity in a very powerful way.
Sandra: I have two things that really stood out. The first one was being part of your journey to create the Shine Together movement. What started out to be a project for the Global Athlete Congress in Berlin, opened the hearts of our small community. I feel proud to be your mom and am amazed by the change I see in the people that the project has reached.
The other was visiting Berlin during the Special Olympics World Games. When I saw in the Olympia stadium during the Opening Ceremonies and I saw all the athletes from countries all over the world walk in ... I can't find words to tell you how emotional that was, and still is.
Torben: What Special Olympics sports will you be involved in this year?
Sandra will continue to be the head coach for athletics and snowshoeing. She will also continue to the assistant coach for swimming - and the designated cheerleader!
Joanne: In 2023 I was involved in snowshoeing, Club Fit, bocce, and athletics.
Joanne will continue to be involved in all of the above - you can always see how much fun she's having!
Torben: Why do you volunteer for Special Olympics, Joanne?
Joanne: I originally volunteered for SO through encouragement from Gale, when an Assistant Coach for snowshowing was needed. Shortly after, I agreed to be the Assistant Coach for Club Fit. I quickly got to know the dedicated and enthusiastic athletes. The joy they had in participating, the camaraderie and sportsmanship they take pride in is infectious. They constantly surprise me, and really have enriched my life and taught me to take joy in all adventures and accomplishments, big and small. I feel the athletes give more back to me that I give to them in coaching.
Torben: Sandra, what are you most looking forward to this year?
Sandra: I look forward to the Shine Together activities that you have planned this year and how this will continue to change hearts and lives. Of course I look forward to the SO National Games in Calgary. I was humbled when I was given a spot on the snowshoeing coaching team, and I am so excited to be a part of this group of amazing coaches and super inspiring athletes. Seeing how committed our athletes are to their training I am looking forward to supporting them every step of the way. And seeing how much knowledge all the coaches on our team have I know they will help me to become the best person that I can be.
I am also looking forward to every practice. Spending this time with our athletes, celebrating all the achievements and giving support where it is needed is a highlight of my week!
Torben: Thank you to Joanne and Sandra for taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you to all coaches for making us run faster and believing that we can do this!
ABOUT SOBC ATHLETE LEADERSHIP
Athlete Reporters complete Athlete Leadership training to share stories from their communities. Training for this year has concluded, but there are more Athlete Leadership courses being planned in the new year!