Cochrane High was buzzing with excitement just before noon today (February 8), as the Torch Run Final Leg stopped by the school.

The Flame of Hope was proudly displayed as it honours the hard work put in by the athletes while celebrating inclusion for all. 

Making its way down to the Winsport International Arena, the Flame of Hope will be used to light the cauldron at Opening Ceremonies which kicks off at 7 pm tonight.

Although a couple of our athletes representing the Bow Valley Chapter proudly ran alongside other athletes competing, a lack of snow a couple of weeks ago, resulted in Special Olympics Alberta making a call to cancel one of the events. 

Elouise Stewart, Brock Jesse, Shane Stewart, and Colin Hale may have been initially disappointed and concerned that cross country skiing was cut from the competition but thanks to Special Olympics British Columbia all is not lost.

Shawn Jesse, the dad of local athlete Brock Jesse, as well as, Head Coach/ Director for Special Olympics Canada says thanks to the generosity of our neighbouring province, our Bow Valley athletes will still compete but at a later date. "Our contingency plan is for the 22nd and 23rd (of February). Everybody that was actually going to be competing in Calgary this weekend is able to go onto Vernon. Special Olympics BC has welcomed us to their own Provincial Games so we will be competing alongside them in their divisions, they have very graciously allowed us to compete with them at their venue."

Jesse shares this has been a difficult year in terms of training for the four cross country skiers, so having a couple more weeks to hit the trails won't be a bad thing. "We are pleased to be able to do our Provincial's at a great venue like Sovereign Lake out in BC."

It shouldn't change anything in terms of medalling, only that our athletes will be able competing on the same track as the BC athletes. "We will be kind of competing with each other, but it shouldn't affect the selection to the National team."

Even though the athletes are not competing this weekend, they are more than thrilled to represent our chapter at Opening Ceremonies. "It is such a great atmosphere and our athletes are just chomping at the bit to be part of that and it is really great they can, even though they can't compete this weekend."

The inclusion that is being shown by Special Olympics, is pretty special, says Jesse. "We are really thankful for Special Olympics BC and Special Olympics Alberta because this is a lot for them to take on to try and organize our cross country ski athletes, so we are pretty grateful that we get this opportunity to compete even though things haven't worked out for our intended venue in Calgary."

While it wasn't the greatest news initially, Jesse says everything has a way of working out. "It makes things a lot easier. Our athletes were concerned, but they are happy with the way things are going now."

The athletes will spend the next couple of weeks training hard as they prepare to race in a couple weeks.


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