Two local athletes will be hitting the skies in May to compete at the 2012 Special Olympics Spring Provincial Games in Kingston, Ontario. Securing a spot in the games last April, Zacchary Parthenay and Brittany O’Donnell will be representing the Red Lake Special Olympics Bowling Team as they face off against other five-pin bowlers from across Ontario in Special Olympics Canada’s most popular sport.
Promoting opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and develop skills and friendship with their families, other athletes and the community for people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics Ontario has been serving its athletes for four decades as part of the world renowned organization Special Olympics Canada. Growing from a modest program serving local athletes to the world’s largest movement dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport, Special Olympics Canada currently involves an estimated 34,000 children, youth and adults who are registered in 17 Olympic-type winter and summer sport programs run year-round out of local sport clubs nationwide.
As members of the Red Lake Special Olympics Bowling Team—also known as Goldcorp’s Golden Bowlers—Parthenay and O’Donnell hit the lanes every Monday in Balmertown to have fun with their friends and perfect their bowling technique and qualified for the Spring Provincial Games during the Regional Games in Thunder Bay earlier this year. “This past April was a qualifying year to compete at the Provincial Games and [the athletes] were judged on their averages and how they competed in Thunder Bay to qualify. Zacchary and Brittany both did very well and were invited to the Provincial Games in Kingston to compete on the 5-pin Bowling Provincial Team in May,” explained Dianna Parthenay, Coordinator, Special Olympics Red Lake. “Brittany and Edward Sanderson qualified a few years ago and attended the Provincial Games which was an experience for them. We are very proud of our team and of Zacchary and Brittany for their accomplishment.”
Hoping that “Brittany and Zacchary experience independence, friendship and what being part of a team is about” as well as pride in representing the Red Lake area, Parthenay is excited that her son and his teammate will have the opportunity to participate in the 2012 Spring Provincial Games. Despite not being able to travel with the team—as parents are not permitted to accompany the athletes to encourage independence and so they can get the most out of the “team experience”—she confirmed that herself and her husband Shawn are hoping to attend the event as fans to share the experience with Zacchary and to cheer him on from the sidelines.
O’Donnell’s parents will be doing the exact same thing confirmed her mother Heather. “Mark and I will both be going. We wouldn’t miss it!” she said noting that she also accompanied her daughter when she made the trek four years ago to compete at the provincial event. “Brittany’s highlights were staying with and meeting all of the athletes from Region 8 and making new friends from Northwestern Ontario and my favourite part was the opening ceremonies and the lighting of the torch, watching our athletes walking in with the biggest smiles on their faces and at the end when their names were called for the medal presentations. It’s a great opportunity and Brittany is very excited to have qualified.”
While the Team is still in the early stages of fundraising, Dianna Parthenay did confirm that the group will host Family Dances in March, April, May and June at the Goldcorp Curling Lounge and has promised to keep local residents posted as the details of those events are ironed out.