Special Olympics is an inspiring movement of athletes, families, coaches, volunteers, sponsors, and celebrities coming together with the common goal of improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and inspiring everyone to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.
When high-profile supporters stand up as champions of our athletes and movement, it makes a difference. Special Olympics BC is fortunate to have many champions from the world of professional and amateur sports who give their time to support our movement and advocate our athletes and cause.
They attend the Sports Celebrities Festival presented by Wheaton Precious Metals to show their support for Special Olympics; they give their time to provincial and local events to interact with our athletes and community; they lend their voices to calls for awareness of Special Olympics and respect and support for athletes. They make a difference by setting an example for a more inclusive, respectful world.
The Vancouver Canucks generously help SOBC with their significant full-team participation in the annual Sports Celebrities Festival in support of SOBC and the Canucks for Kids Fund. Their generosity towards Special Olympics continues year-round, as they provide ticket donations so athletes and coaches get to attend games, offer assistance from their players and coaching staff for training and development events, and give SOBC access to autographed memorabilia that creates key fundraising opportunities for SOBC provincially and at the local level. They never hesitate to support Special Olympics athletes by cheering for them and raising awareness in their online channels. For the fourth straight year, in 2018 Canucks staff jumped at the chance to work with SOBC athletes on their annual Live 2 Give day, where all staff spend a day volunteering with Lower Mainland charities. Enthusiastic and encouraging Canucks staff members ran a functional testing session to help SOBC athletes track their fitness, strength, and progress.
The BC Lions Football Club is a longstanding supporter of Special Olympics and their players are great champions who attend events such as the Sports Celebrities Festival. Many players and leaders have enthusiastically gotten further involved. Quarterback Travis Lulay, who has been an incredible champion of Special Olympics throughout his years in B.C. and beyond, has been joined by slotback Manny Arceneaux and wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi (who retired at the end of the 2017 season) in generously supporting Special Olympics with participation in events and awareness-raising on social media. In 2017, the trio of Lions bravely took the plunge into the icy waters of English Bay at the Vancouver Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC generously donates unique autographed memorabilia for fundraising and gets their players and icons involved in Special Olympics events. They are quick to kindly help raise awareness in their web and social media channels and offer encouragement to SOBC athletes. In 2017, the Whitecaps generously welcomed SOBC as the featured charity at their season opener in March, providing a high-profile opportunity to raise awareness about Special Olympics and invite pledges of respect in the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. Thanks to the Whitecaps and Major League Soccer (MLS), SOBC was also invited to be part of the 2017 MLS WORKS ESPN Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match. SOBC – Abbotsford soccer player Bradly Barnett and coach Roshan Gosal were part of the exciting experiences in Chicago July 31 to August 2. MLS WORKS and ESPN host this program and invited 44 delegates this year representing all 22 MLS clubs, and SOBC – Abbotsford midfielder Barnett hit the field alongside Whitecaps FC Residency midfielder Jonas Hakkinen in the East vs. West matchup.
Legendary broadcasters Howie Meeker and Bernie Pascall have long led the way in setting this example of inspiration, part of a powerful tradition of support for Special Olympics from the hockey world that helped establish our movement in Canada. They remain active supporters of the movement today, giving everything from their time at events to auction donations and support on social media. In addition, many stars and sports organizations elsewhere in Vancouver and in communities around B.C. generously give their time and support to SOBC Locals. We are so grateful to these champions for raising awareness and support in their communities as well. Our sincere thanks to all of these valued supporters who back Special Olympics athletes and lead the way with their examples of respect and dignity!