The return of the Special Olympics

By David F. Rooney

After a prolonged absence, a major effort is being made to bring the Special Olympics program back to Revelstoke.

“We know the athletes are here and we know the interest is here,” says Leslie Thornley, regional field manager for Special Olympics BC. “What we need are five to eight people willing and eager to spearhead the program in Revelstoke.”

She said in an interview that potential volunteers are being invited to attend a Volunteers Evening at the Community Centre this Tuesday, October 5, at 7 pm.

“We need a few good people for an hour a week, an hour a month… whatever they can give us,” Thornley said. “We are looking for board positions, coaches, sport volunteers, event planners, fund raisers, public relations, et cetera. This should be of special interest to youths who need volunteer hours in order to graduate. Please just come down and show up.”

Revelstoke had a Special Olympics program several years ago but volunteer burnout took a toll on the people involved, as it does with many organizations.

Now the provincial organization wants to resurrect the local program which will offer programs to kids ages two to six, seven to 11 and 12 to 18. The Revelstoke program once offered five-pin bowling, snowshoeing and swimming. There are presently 18 sports that are sanctioned as possible programs by Special Olympics Canada. Special Olympics BC sports programs are offered year round in 54 communities and the Special Olympics Games take place on a four-year cycle for summer and winter sports.

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics Games, athletes must be at least eight years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction.

Coaches are certified through the National Coaching Certification Program. The official winter sports are alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating. The official summer sports are five-pin bowling, 10-pin bowling, aquatics, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball and track and field. Basketball, bocce and golf are demonstration sports.

The majority of SOBC funding is from private, corporate, and foundation donors, along with special events fundraising.

For more information please call Leslie Thornley, Special Olympics BC Regional Field Manager, at 250-317-1272 or send her an e-mail at