To most of us, an event like motionball Marathon of Sport may just seem like another fun activity, another day spent with friends, another fundraiser. But to others, the event and the cause that it supports are life-changing in the most positive way imaginable.
In case you haven’t heard of motionball before, it’s a not-for-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation.
Each year, the organization hosts motionball Marathon of Sport events in various Canadian cities, including Kelowna. The motionball Marathon of Sport event is a day full of recreational sports and friendly competition, where Special Olympics athletes and locals compete in a variety of fun activities together.
We spoke with a few locals who are involved in or affected by the motionball Marathon of Sport event to find out why this cause is so worthwhile, and the impact that it has.
Holly is a vibrant and enthusiastic Special Olympian with a competitive spirit. After only four years participating in Special Olympics, she was selected to participate in her first Provincial Games in Kamloops in 2017 where she took home four gold medals.
“I really like competition. The coaches remind me to keep my toes pointed and to have fun,” said Holly.
Holly can’t wait to attend motionball 2018 to reconnect with her friends from last year, meet new people, listen to music and of course play some fun sports (especially human foosball!).
“It is so exciting to see your child excelling at sports, getting along well with others and having so much fun,” said Holly’s mom, Jen Womack, who is very proud of her daughter and is a dedicated fan of motionball and Special Olympics.
“motionball is critical in spreading awareness and breaking down barriers about Special Olympic athletes. The funds raised through motionball opens doors for our Special Olympic athletes in all areas including, awareness, coaching, training and equipment and travel,” added Womack.
“Special Olympics has helped my daughter build confidence and self-esteem. It has pushed her out of her comfort zone and taught her to set goals and explore her potential,” stated Womack. “It is not easy letting go of your child but in the Special Olympics community it feels so safe, it is easy to let her go.”
Kelowna’s Mayor, Colin Basran, participated in the first three motionball Marathon of Sport events as an athlete and has always been an advocate for the event.
“I support this event because it provides an amazing opportunity to help eliminate social stigma and makes people realize that we all belong and we are all part of one team,” said Basran. “I hope the athletes leave motionball feeling like they had an amazing day, made some new friends and feel a sense of belonging and worthiness in our community.”
“I believe the community benefits because the experience for all the athletes is definitely life changing,” added Basran. “There is a greater sense of awareness and the need for more acceptance and inclusion after someone participates in motionball.”
“It truly is one of the most fulfilling and uplifting events you will ever be a part of.”
Tracy Melesko is an accomplished Special Olympian and was recently the first Special Olympian to be inducted into the Central Okanagan Sport Hall of Fame.
She excels at track and field and cross country skiing, and has attended three World Summer Games and two World Winter Games.
As an athlete who has competed successfully around the world, Melesko is thankful for the motionball’s dedication to supporting Special Olympics and ending the use of the ‘R’ word, and she can’t wait to attend this year.
“motionball has helped me to get where I want to be,” said Melesko.
When Drew Vincent was first asked to participate in motionball in 2014, he didn’t know anything about the event. He ended up having a great time and has participated every year since, and has been on the planning committee for the past three years.
“We take for granted the joy of participating in events and teams, for people with diverse abilities that isn’t always a possibility,” said Vincent. “Special Olympics builds confidence, pride and community for everyone involved.”
“motionball creates an awareness and compassion for people that may be different. An understanding that at the root of it we actually all have a lot in common,” added Vincent. “The benefits of the event go beyond people with diverse abilities and extends well into the community.”
“Sign up, put in a team, volunteer or participate. It is a day filled with fun and excitement that you will never regret!”
Jamie Carpenter has been participating in motionball as a Team Captain of one of the Interior Savings teams since 2014. When she was asked to join as a Volunteer Coordinator this year, she couldn’t say no!
“I chose to participate to encourage positivity and awareness within the community. It introduces a new generation of supporters, volunteers and the athletes in a fun-filled day of sports,” said Carpenter.
“Not only does it bring our community together raising money for a special cause, but it allows us young professionals within the Kelowna area to get to know the athletes, what they have accomplished and how these funds are benefiting them directly,” added Carpenter. “This is one event of the year that I really truly look forward to. I love seeing the athletes at their workplaces or out in the community after the event and getting to know them better and breaking down the barriers.”
“If you or anyone you know that may be interested in the event as a participant, sponsor or athlete - reach out to me! I’d love to help answer any questions you may have.”
While Oliver isn’t quite old enough to participate in motionball as an athlete yet, he’s already involved in other Special Olympics sports and loves coming out to the event to cheer on other athletes.
“I love sports! My favourite is hockey and soccer and basketball,” said Oliver. “It’s fun and I love Special Olympics.”
“I like to play with mom and dad. I like bowling (bocce). I like to score goals. I like my friends. I like my coaches.”
Oliver’s mom, Amie Hough, has participated in motionball since 2013 to raise funds and awareness for a wonderful organization that offers her son a bright future. She loves that the event is modeled on the idea of inclusion.
“What people may not realize is that people with intellectual disabilities are often the most isolated in our communities, and people can be afraid or uncertain as to how to interact with them,” said Hough. “Events like motionball help to smash dated stereotypes and allow people to see these athletes in a different light possibly. These athletes all want and need the same things as you and I — a sense of belonging, opportunities for health and fitness, fun, and a sense of community and caring.”
“This kid loves all sports - hockey, soccer, football, basketball, swimming, you name it. It’s really been amazing for his gross motor skills and coordination as kids with Down Syndrome struggle in this area,” added Hough. “Aside from the health and fitness aspect of it, it’s given Oliver a place to belong, and he’s made some pretty good pals there. I think it’s amazing for Oliver to explore sports and fitness in a safe and supportive environment where he’s able to work at his own pace with others that have similar abilities.”
“What I want people to know about motionball is that I guarantee you will have an amazing time and leave feeling good about the day,” said Hough. “Special Olympics is a community for people with intellectual disabilities and by supporting the organization you are giving the gift of belonging, health and fitness, and really the opportunity to experience the power of sport.”
This year’s motionball Marathon of Sport takes place in City Park on September 22nd 2018, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you’re interested in creating a team for the event or learning more about how you can participate, click here. If you'd like to find out how you can contribute to the cause as a volunteer or other, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
motionball Marathon of Sport brings Special Olympics athletes and locals together for a fun-filled day of athletic competition. The goal of the event is to raise both awareness and funds for Special Olympics athletes.
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