2018 Inductee: Matthew Williams
Induction summary written in 2018
SOBC – Langley’s Matthew Williams is an accomplished athlete and an inspiring advocate for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Williams has excelled in both summer and winter sports. He competed as a member of Special Olympics Team Canada in basketball at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, finishing fourth with his team. Williams also participated in speed skating at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, where he secured a silver medal with a personal-best time in the 1,000-metre.
On the national level, Williams was a four-time medalist at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, winning gold, two silvers, and bronze in speed skating. At the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Williams helped propel Team BC to silver in basketball.
Williams’ dedication to sport matches his commitment to the Special Olympics movement.
In December of 2010, Williams was named a member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics International (SOI), the top governing authority for the Special Olympics movement. The move came after he was elected Chair of the Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress in June 2010. Williams was also appointed a Sargent Shriver Global Messenger that same year. Williams continues to sit on the Board of Directors for SOI and serves as the Chair of the Global Athlete Congress.
In addition to his work with SOI, Williams continues to play an essential role in his home province of British Columbia. He currently sits on Special Olympics BC’s Leadership Council, which serves as the link between the community and regional programs and the Board of Directors of Special Olympics BC. This group plays an important role in helping chart the course of SOBC sport program development, strategic plans, policies, and resources.
At the induction ceremony, Williams thanked his family and wife Crystal for always supporting his dreams and Special Olympics for helping them come true. He said his experiences as an athlete have truly changed his life.
“Thank you to my coaches and fellow athletes for making every Special Olympics practice and competition I attended fun; for challenging me and helping me to achieve my full potential in all of my sports,” he said.
2015 Inductee: Kelowna Grizzlies softball team
Induction summary written in 2015:
The Kelowna Grizzlies are the only B.C. team to ever compete and win medals in three Special Olympics World Games. They have been playing together for nearly 25 years, and while some members have stepped away, the core group has remained the same. In 1999, they became the first Special Olympics BC softball team to make it to World Games. They went on to win a gold medal! This team continued to work hard, and in 2010, they won the right to represent Canada at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece. They tied for gold, but were awarded silver based on runs for and against. The Kelowna Grizzlies set a B.C. record by representing Canada for the third time at a World Games when they competed in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, capturing the bronze medal in the process.
2008 Inductee: Marc Theriault
Induction summary written in 2008:
Marc Theriault has been a Special Olympics athlete for more than a dozen years participating in 10-pin bowling, curling, figure skating, soccer and softball. He is the first athlete in Special Olympics BC history to win gold medals at four World Games in three different sports.
In 1999, Marc won gold with the Kelowna Grizzlies softball team at the World Games in North Carolina. In 2001, Marc won gold in men's singles figure skating at the World Games in Alaska. Then in 2005, Marc won gold at the World Games in Nagano, but this time in the pairs figure skating event with partner Alexandra Magee. Finally, Marc competed with the Surrey Vipers soccer team in 2007 at the World Games in Shanghai, winning gold. Marc is an extraordinary athlete and teammate who once again won gold in the men's singles figure skating in 2009 at the World Games in Idaho.
In a tearful acceptance speech in front of a standing ovation, Marc's message was powerful: "Special Olympics has changed my life – thank you!"
2002 Inductee: Julie Keldsen
Induction summary written in 2002:
Coquitlam athlete Julie Keldsen has been involved in Special Olympics BC since 1984. She was recognized as one of the most accomplished athletes in British Columbia in 2002, when she was inducted into Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame.
Julie was the first Special Olympics athlete to compete at three Special Olympics World Games in three different sports. Her personal best performances at these international competitions earned her a silver medal in figure skating in Salzburg in 1993, as well as a bronze medal in alpine skiing in Reno in 1989. In 1999, Julie competed in rhythmic gymnastics in Raleigh, North Carolina, winning three gold and two silver medals.
In 2004, Julie competed in speed skating at the Special Olympics Canada National Winter Games where she won four medals-one gold, two silver and one bronze. She inspires her coaches and teammates with her attitude, commitment and drive.
2000 Inductee: Tracey Melesko
Induction summary written in 2000:
Special Olympics BC – Kelowna athlete Tracey Melesko was the first athlete to be inducted into the Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame.
Tracey competed in track and field in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays, as well as in long jump. She earned gold medals in each of these National Games. Tracey also competed at the 1991 and 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games. In recognition of her outstanding athletic ability, Tracey was the first athlete with an intellectual disability to be carded by Sport Canada.
As one of the premier athletes with an intellectual disability in track and field, Tracey also represented Canada in the Paralympic Games in 1992, 1996 and 2000. She was chosen to represent Canada at the 1998 IPC World Athletic Championships in Birmingham, England, and the 1999 INAS-FMH World Championships in Seville, Spain.
Tracey continues to be actively involved in cross-country skiing and track and field with SOBC – Kelowna. She competed at the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and took home a gold, silver and bronze in her events.