Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

SOBC Leadership Council update

21 November 2017

Special Olympics BC’s Leadership Council provides vital guidance for our organization and movement, and benefits significantly from the efforts of these valued volunteers.

Comprised of the Regional Coordinators representing the eight SOBC Regions and respected leaders in the SOBC sport world, the council serves as the link between community and regional programs and the Board of Directors of Special Olympics BC. This group plays an important role in helping chart the course of SOBC sport program development, strategic plans, policies, and resources.

In 2017 the council welcomed three new Regional Coordinators: Marie-Helene Labonte for Region 1 (Kootenays), Karen Theriault for Region 4 (Burnaby-Delta-Richmond), and Tina Giesbrecht for Region 7 (northwest B.C.).

Labonte kindly stepped into the Region 1 role after Sheila Hawton retired following many years of dedicated efforts to benefit Special Olympics athletes and programs and the movement. Hawton generously gave her time to SOBC in many roles, including Local Coordinator for SOBC – Trail, as a Chef de Mission for Region 1 teams at SOBC Games, and as mission staff for provincial teams at Special Olympics Canada Games.

Labonte brings excellent experience from her years as SOBC – Golden’s Local Coordinator and Program Coordinator as well as a coach of several sports. Labonte has been an active participant in Regional Conferences and Regional teams to Provincial Games, and she has been a driving force in expanding SOBC – Golden’s programming, promoting Special Olympics in her community, and recruiting volunteers.

The 2013 winner of the SOBC President’s Award and SOC Jim Thompson Award, Theriault brings many years of Special Olympics experience and knowledge both as a parent and as a dedicated volunteer in a wide range of roles, including SOBC – Surrey Local Coordinator and many Local Committee positions. Now a North Delta resident, Theriault is known as a well-respected, hardworking, and dedicated leader with great abilities to build partnerships.

Theriault is taking over the Region 4 role after the departure of Natalie D’Angelo. In her year in the position, D’Angelo helped move the organization forward with her great insights in community development, volunteer management, and Athlete Leadership programs.

In Region 7, Giesbrecht kindly stepped into the Regional Coordinator role after the retirement of Nicole Zacharias. Giesbrecht has given her time to benefit Special Olympics athletes and programs through many roles to date, including SOBC – Burns Lake Local Coordinator, coach of several sports, and coach and mission staff for several Special Olympics provincial and national teams. She and Theriault both excelled as first-time Chefs de Mission for their Regional teams at the 2017 SOBC Summer Games in Kamloops.

Zacharias stepped down from the Leadership Council after several years of sharing great insights from her Region and her wide range of experience. Zacharias has generously given her time to SOBC in an array of roles ranging from SOBC – Smithers Local Coordinator to coaching athletics, snowshoeing, and swimming.

Sincere thanks to all of the Leadership Council members who take so much time and care to help strengthen Special Olympics BC and support all athletes, coaches, and volunteers!


SOBC Leadership Council

Leadership Chair: Patty Wheeldon

Regional Coordinators:

Marie-Helene Labonte (Region 1)

Sheila Paynter (Region 2)

Donna Bilous (Region 3)

Karen Theriault (Region 4)

Darren Inouye (Region 5)

Jean Tetarenko (Region 6)

Tina Giesbrecht (Region 7)

Tracy Heartt (Region 8)



Deanna Levchuk

Vincent Li

James Sutherland

Matthew Williams

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