Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Looking back at inspiring, heartwarming Provincial Games

16 July 2013

After walking into the Opening Ceremonies of the 2013 Special Olympics BC Summer Games with her Region 6 team, at 375 members the largest-ever team to attend an SOBC Games, Special Olympics BC – Cowichan Valley athlete Kara Summer sat in her seat listening to the cheers and smiling with tears in her eyes.

The 10-pin bowling athlete was moved to be taking part in her first-ever Provincial Games.

“It means a whole lot,” she said. “I’ve been practicing really, really hard.” Kara started to feel choked up even before she got to the Games, and in the Opening Ceremonies she said she felt “emotional and excited” to be there with her team.

Such feelings of pride, emotion, and excitement resonated through the Opening Ceremonies, where families, friends, sponsors, sports celebrities, and fans came together to celebrate the athletes who had worked so hard to get to Langley and be ready to be at their very best on the Provincial Games stage.

The stirring and entertaining ceremony proved to be a fitting opening to two incredible days of sport and inspiration, where the more than 1,100 athletes from around B.C. and the Yukon showed everyone what true sportsmanship, dedication, and love of sport looks like.

Games photos (separated by sport)

Videos

Results

Media coverage

Nearly 600 medals were awarded to deserving and proud recipients who went home thrilled about their achievements. One of many great examples was seeing medal-winning 10-pin bowling athlete James Newman of SOBC – Coquitlam at the Closing Ceremonies. Asked how the Games went, he pulled out the scoresheet that showed that in one game he bowled eight straight strikes, an incredible achievement that electrified everyone watching.

The impact of Special Olympics was abundantly on display during the 2013 Provincial Games. SOBC – Langley athletes Joshua and Jaykob Low both did well in the Games and happily came home with medals – gold for softball player Jaykob and silver for swimmer Joshua – and their mother Merry also shared how Special Olympics has made “life-changing differences” for Joshua.

“Joshua was sick from the time we brought him home. He endured heart surgery at six months and again at two. Then at age four he was diagnosed with cancer. He spent many years in hospital and Canuck Place with not a lot of hope for a long life,” Merry wrote. “About four years ago, Josh began Special Olympics, and now at 21 is a healthy, happy athlete who came home from the Games with a silver medal.

“But much more important [than the medal] is the health that he has gained back, and the fact that at 21 he is still here and going strong, with great aspirations of a long sporting future. Thanks to Special Olympics I'm not sure I remember the last time he was in hospital.”

While Special Olympics Games are about sport, achievement, and pride, they are also about friendship, connections, acceptance, and sportsmanship. Out at Redwoods Golf Course, the athletes from all around the province and the Yukon offered one of wonderful examples of Games friendship and bonding as they hung out together after completing their rounds and cheered the other incoming golfers.

SOBC – 100 Mile House athlete Brett Tassell said the Provincial Games experience was all about the “hard work with [coach/Local Coordinator] Denise getting me into this, and I really enjoyed it.

“I really like hanging out with more athletes, and hanging out with best friends.”

In between taking team members through Healthy Athletes stations, SOBC – Vernon powerlifting coach Glen Schwebbach summed up what so many of us were thinking.

“It’s been the most incredible experience I’ve ever had,” he said.

The largest SOBC Games yet, the 2013 Provincial Games received vital support from 1,200 enthusiastic volunteers, many of whom shared how moved and inspired they were by the athletes they met.

Accommodations volunteer Lisa Gibbs took to SOBC's Facebook page to share how much the athletes inspired her.

“The infectious mood of the athletes, their enthusiasm and dedication to their sport, the camaraderie and their sheer joy at competing - win OR lose – has been inspiring and completely heartwarming,” she wrote. “I have had THE most wonderful experience during these Games! Thank you to everyone who let me serve them these past three days – it was an experience I will NEVER forget!”

The 2013 Games Organizing Committee wanted the Games to leave a legacy, including increased involvement and interest in Special Olympics especially in Langley. That was in evidence already, judging by the number of people who approached SOBC Chair Pam Keith throughout the Games to ask how they can stay involved.

“I think the 2013 SOBC Summer Games was a great success. The athletes and volunteer coaches were so inspiring both on and off the playing fields, and we so appreciated the 1,200 volunteers who worked so hard to deliver such a rewarding and memorable experience for everyone,” Pam said.

“I was also really pleased to see how many Games volunteers came up to me afterward to ask how they can continue being involved with Special Olympics. In addition to being an amazing experience in itself, I think this Games will leave a great legacy of appreciation and awareness for Special Olympics.”

Contacts to get involved in local SOBC programs

Our sincere thanks to each and every athlete, coach, volunteer, sponsor, family member, friend, and supporter who made this experience possible and memorable. We won’t soon forget the four days in Langley.

 

Generous sponsor support

The 2013 SOBC Summer Games would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors, including:

  • SOBC Provincial Sponsors: Goldcorp, the Government of B.C., the New Car Dealers Association of B.C., Safeway, and Staples;
  • Games Platinum Sponsors: the Township of Langley, the Langley School District #35, and media sponsors Langley Advance, Langley Times, and CTV British Columbia;
  • Games Gold Sponsors: the Canadian Progress Club, the City of Langley, Goldcorp, and Super Save Group;
  • Games Silver Sponsors: Canadian Union of Public Employees 403, Canadian Horizons Land Investment Corp., Christian Life Assembly, Northwest Tank Lines Inc., and Scotiabank;
  • Closing Ceremonies and Dance Sponsor: Ron Lloyd;
  • Family & Friends Program: Cascades Casino Resort;
  • Games Bronze Sponsors: Aldergrove Financial Group, BC Insulators, Bonetti Meats, JD Farms, Preston Chevrolet Buick GM Cadillac Ltd., and Eric Woodward;
  • and many Friends of the Games and Draft an Athlete supporters – our sincere thanks to all.

Thank you so much David, Caroline, and Simone! Thank you for your lovely words.

Simone, I will work on printing some photos for you. :)

All the best,

Megan (SOBC communications)

Megan Wed, 2013-07-17 10:22

I share the feelings many others have put into words. I absolutely loved being around the energy and spirit these athletes exuded, and I wish I could have spent more time with them.

I've never volunteered for anything in my life before, but at 64 years of age I guess it's never to late to start. I'm so gratefull that my fairly recent hobby of photography has alowed me access into a world most people never get the pleasure of experiencing. And believe me it was an honor, and a pleasure.

 Thank you SOBC.

David Dickson Tue, 2013-07-16 21:56

The young man in the red shirt name is Kyle and he is from Victoria, I am his caregiver. He came back home with two gold medals and a huge smile on his face. I cannot thank everyone enough for all the work you all put into this event, with volunteer hours. You all are amazing people. I am hoping not only will Kyle get to go back but both my sons can attend the provincials one year as well. Thank you so much again.

Caroline

Caroline Mavridis Tue, 2013-07-16 21:39

I want to thank you for the awesome time that I had at the games in Langley.  You guys did an awesome job with organizing the games.  I am from Port Alberni and I was part of the softball team.  I wanted to know if you had any pictures of softball team of Port Alberni and if you could send me a couple of them.  My address is 4566 Beale Street Port Alberni BC V9Y 5P6.  once again thank you.

From Simone Myers.

Simone Tue, 2013-07-16 18:45

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