Laurie Kent, left, Cherie Swaan and Tracey Dodgson having a laugh at the first Special Olympic Athlete Fundraiser.

Busy week ahead for Quesnel Special Olympics

The association hosts Try-It Day, Ice-Breaker Track Meet and Athlete Fundraiser

Inclusion is the name of the game for Quesnel Special Olympics (QSO) next week, as the organization hosts three events looking to empower and involve its current athletes, as well as inspire some future competitors.

On Wednesday, May 2, QSO will hold its second annual Try-It Day at Correlieu Secondary School (CSS) from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Try-It Day is a collaboration between QSO and School District #28 that aims to give students with intellectual disabilities a chance to try some Special Olympics activities.

The district sends out invitations to identified students inviting them to participate.

They register, get a T-shirt, and then the fun and games begin.

Four stations will be set up where students can try golf, track and field, soccer and basketball.

The first iteration of the event was held in January, but this time they’ve waited a few extra months so more outdoor activities can be included.

After the games, students and parents will gather in a classroom where a presentation will be given on the benefits of getting involved with Special Olympics.

A community development co-ordinator with Special Olympics BC will give a short talk.

“It’s important to get these youth active at a young age,” says Charlene Flood.

“It increases their physical literacy and helps them get active in sports for life, which builds good habits well into adulthood.”

Brock Terlesky, the winner of this year’s Paul Turgeon Award, which is bestowed upon the athlete that best exemplifies dedication and commitment, will also talk about how much the program has changed his life.

Ice Breaker Track Meet

Thursday and Friday (May 3-4) will see QSO athletes participating side-by-side with some of the high school athletes from Quesnel Junior School and CSS at the Ice Breaker Track Meet at CSS.

According to QSO program co-ordinator Rick Prosk, it might be the first time in B.C. where high school and Special Olympics (SO) track athletes are participating at the same time in the same events and on the same teams.

Prosk says that the idea for the event started a couple years ago when he and Becky Whitehouse, QJS’ track coach, attended the BC Summer Games.

“Becky was there as Region 8 track coach and I was there as SO assistant track coach, and the way it works is we select eight male and eight female SO athletes to participate in a series of track and field events over the course of the games.

“They enjoyed it, but the problem for me was there wasn’t any integration and there wasn’t any inclusion.

“Events were run separately. So even though the SO athletes were part of the Region 8 team, they weren’t included as part of the Region 8 team.”

Once the games were over, Whitehouse and Prosk discussed how to change that and decided upon the meet.

“It’s a way of furthering inclusion and acceptance,” Prosk says.

Fundraising initiative

Finally, on Saturday (May 5) the second annual Athlete Fundraiser will take place at Extra Foods on Maple Drive from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The athletes themselves have organized the fundraiser and will be running it on the day.

“We started this a year ago, to get the athletes to be a little more aware of all the work that goes into holding a fundraising event. In the past we’ve asked them to help, but it was always organized by other people. This was a way for them to gain an understanding of the work that goes into it,” Prosk says.

By all accounts, the last event was a success, with $1,000 raised towards travel, as well as equipment and uniforms.

Four sub-committees have been formed, with Libby Sherwood and Robert Beiswanger in charge of the car wash; Travis Burt and Danny Dodgson in charge of the barbecue; siblings Cory and Glenda Melnychuk in charge of the bake sale; and Brock Terlesky and Cheri Swaan in charge of publicity.

“All funds raised stay in Quesnel,” Terlesky explains.

“We’re self-funded, so it’s important to keep the programs running.”

Terlesky and some fellow athletes will be flying to Nova Scotia this year for national competitions.

“What you really get from Special Olympics is learning to travel independently and meet new people,” he says.

“And you see the value of taking all those hours of commitment and putting them to good use and getting a result.”

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