Left to right: Jacquie Monty, Melinda Franson, Andrea Bailey, Kim Scott, and Jamie Fulcher take it easy on the sidelines of a swim meet at UBC in February. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Chilliwack Special Olympics launches into spring season

Bocce ball, soccer, softball and golf highlight the offerings for 87-plus local athletes.

Special Olympics B.C. is rolling into the spring season.

Special Olympics Chilliwack includes 87 athletes ages 12 to 68, with support for 11 sports throughout the year.

The four spring sports starting in April are bocce ball, soccer, softball and golf. Registration is being accepted now by emailing specialoreg.chilliwack@gmail.com.

The seven winter sports are swimming, five-pin bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, floor hockey, basketball power lifting and club fit.

Athletes practice and compete locally and travel to out-of-town meets/tournaments. A group of local soccer players is heading to the Yukon this weekend for two days of games.

Some sports provide the opportunity to compete at a provincial, and even national level if athletes desire.

Special Olympics World Games are held every second year, alternating between Summer and Winter sports. The next Summer Special Olympics World Games will be held March 14-21, 2019 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The next Winter Special Olympics World Games are scheduled for 2021 in a location to be announced.

“A lot of our athletes are social athletes who are out there to have fun and exercise and learn a sport, and some are quite competitive,” said Jim Ryan, one of two local coordinators for Special Olympics Chilliwack. “If you have a lot of ability we will do our best to improve upon that ability. And if you’re a person who is out for fun, exercise, socializing and personal growth, that’s what we’re there for.”

Ryan and Dona Young are taking over for Val Monty, who served as the SOBC local coordinator for five years. A former teacher who worked with special needs students, Young is a big believer in the Special Olympics mission, which is as meaningful now as it was when Special Oympics B.C. was founded in 1980.

“Enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and, in turn, the lives of their families, friends and everyone they have touched,” Young said with a smile. “Special Olympics BC provides high quality sports programs and competitions that help people with intellectual disabilities celebrate personal achievement and gain confidence, skills and friendships.”

Reid said SOBC also provides mentoring programs and public speaking courses to give young athletes marketable skills.

Athletes are supported by an army of 50-plus volunteers, but there is always a need for more.

“If you are with these athletes, you get so much reward because they are so thankful and gracious,” Young said. “They just love you being there and that’s just the kind of people most of them are.

“The athletes love and encourage each other no matter where they’re at, which is a wonderful and encouraging thing to see. So my motivation to volunteer comes from my heart, and spending time with them is all of the reward I need.”

Anyone wanting to get involved can email sobc.chilliwack.volunteering@gmail.com.

Primary financial support for Special Olympics B.C. comes from the Province of B.C. and the Chilliwack Foundation with additional help from a number of local businesses and service clubs.

For more info on SOBC, visit specialolympics.bc.ca/

The local club can be found online at facebook.com/Chilliwack.SO.7568.

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