The Special Olympics Organizing Committee was out at Searchmont Resort this morning to shoot footage, before all the snow melts, of some of the Special Olympians who will be competing in snowshoeing and skiing.
I had the opportunity to speak with Constable Shaun Beaulieu, Games Manager for the 2019 Ontario Winter Games, which will be hosted in the Sault for the very first time.
This will give Sault Ste. Marie, the home of over 100 athletes who will be competing to qualify for the games, the exciting chance to host athletes, coaches, families, and friends from across the province from January 31st – February 3rd, 2019.
“In addition to the games, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Sault Ste. Marie Chapter, will be hosting an international conference taking place with joint forces between Michigan and Ontario, bringing approximately 300 police officers to the games. They will also run the Flame of Hope from Sault Michigan to Sault Ontario,” explained Constable Beaulieu.
“Chiefs of Police will also be hosting a regional conference at the same time, which should bring in 100 Chiefs and their counterparts to the games as well,” he continued.
Sounds like the Sault will have a full house for the games – all while promoting a sense of camaraderie and loyalty from officer to officer and athlete to athlete.
Quinn Pleau-MacWilliam, a Special Olympian with Down syndrome, and his brother, Cole Pleau-MacWilliam, a Special Olympian with Autism, have competed together for years.
Their mother, Suzanne, said “Cole has a lot of energy so this the cross-country skiing and the swimming (part of the summer games) are perfect sports for him.”
“As a parent, my favourite part is the sense of belonging and the activity, the exercise.”
The athletes have been training hard, and cross-country skiers will be heading to Huntsville this weekend to qualify for the provincial games that will be hosted in the Sault next year.
Quinn told SaultOnline “it’s all about being friends, the opportunities, the skills, and the sports.”
These events wouldn’t be possible without this level of dedication from the athletes, or from the team of volunteers that will be devoting their time to the event for the next year.