Special Olympic athletes, especially, in the Bow Valley corridor are looking to the community for long-term support.
Competitors such as Brock Jesse, Elouise Stewart, and Paul Oldridge know the importance funding can make for Special Olympic athletes.
For athlete, Paul Oldridge, funding has supported him to compete at the level in which he does. Oldridge was the only athlete from Cochrane to travel to Antigonish, Nova Scotia this past summer to compete in the Special Olympic Summer Games.
Walking away with a gold medal out of 41 golfers, Oldridge says the experience was incredible. "The games were wonderful, the volunteers were so hospitable and welcoming, the facilities were great and really well organized, and Opening Ceremonies we're really great."
Golfing with people from Ontario, PEI, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Oldridge, shares on a whole Alberta did very well at the games. "We got 119 medals...43 gold, 47 silver 29 bronze. I had a great time and won gold in the men's 5th division and I was proud to represent Alberta, Cochrane, Calgary."
Going into the last day, tied, Oldridge managed to climb ahead and beat his Alberta competition by a few strokes.
While golf has wrapped up for the season, Oldridge will continue to hit a bucket of balls weekly at the Golf Dome in Calgary, and compete in curling and snowshoeing events this winter. Looking to the future he shares he has no big goals, except the following. "I just want to do my best, continue to play, and get better."
While Oldridge trains and competes out of a Calgary chapter, he is very thankful for the people who donate monetarily. "All that helps with all the sports and costs."
With more athletes wanting to be involved with Special Olympics from our local area, Lynda Jesse, in charge of administration, communication, and fundraising for the Bow Valley chapter says they are wanting to develop a long-term, sustainable plan. "We don't want our athletes or coaches to pay as they go. We want to raise enough money that nobody has to do that because a lot of our athletes can be on a fixed income and if they have to pay as they go for everything like uniforms, registration fees, and competition fees...that might be the difference between participating in sport and not. And we don't want that."
Looking to raise enough money to cover the previously stated expenses, Jesse shares anything left over would be used to expand programming and provide more opportunities for individuals to play.
Finding incredible value in being part of the Special Olympics family, Jesse hopes all individuals that want to compete can. "Through Special Olympics, he has made friendships, been able to meet more people and has connections in the community. He also now has gotten involved with the Red Rock Runners and so he branching out and it has really benefitted him socially. He has also gained a lot of confidence and it'd really leading to a healthy lifestyle for him."
Hosting an online Facebook auction in support of the Bow Valley program beginning on November 24th, Jesse says all funds will go directly to the chapter which formalized in January of 2018. With our growing population, the need to create a localized program was identified. Currently, we have six athletes, four coaches, and five volunteers plus parents under the Bow Valley umbrella.
If you would like to make a cash donation you can contribute by going HERE. All cash donations over $25 are eligible for a tax receipt if need be.
With having no money in the coffers, Jesse says they will be thankful to all who support the chapter and cause. "I really have no idea how many dollars these usually bring in. Anything between $2500 and $4000 would be wonderful but we're just grateful for anything because we are just starting from the ground up."
Have an item or gift certificate you could donate to the auction? You can reach Lynda Jesse at [email protected]