Greater Sudbury has been supporting and participating in the Special Olympics for 40 years.
In Ontario, Special Olympics is marking 50 years, though. And today (March 25) is Special Olympcs Day in Ontario.
Both are significant milestones.
In Sudbury, more than 300 special athletes compete in a variety of sports, from recreational swimming and bowling to high-calibre basketball and floor hockey.
Jarrod Copland, sports and competition developer for Special Olympics in Sudbury, said the growth and introduction of school programming here has seen a great increase in the number of athletes.
“We're seeing new sports starting up on a continual basis as more volunteers and new interests arise,” Copland said following a flag-raising ceremony Monday at Tom Davies Square to recognize the milestone occasion. “This was a big year for Special Olympics. We've had three provincial games, and we're gearing up for the 2019 Invitational Youth Games in May, as well as the provincial bowling championships.”
You might have heard about Josée Seguin, the athlete from Greater Sudbury who just came back from Abu Dabi with three gold medals and a silver medal for powerlifting. She was also in attendance for the flag raising, and helped put Greater Sudbury on the map for Special Olympics.
“We haven't had an athlete from Sudbury representing us on the world stage in a long time, so this is a great accomplishment, not only for Josée, but the entire community,” Copland said.
Just as important as drawing new athletes to the organization is finding new volunteers to help deliver the programs, he said.
“We're always trying to attract different types of volunteers to help Special Olympics continue to grow,” he said. “Hopefully we can have another strong 40 years of Special Olympics here in Sudbury.”
Greater Sudbury Police Service is dedicated to raising funds and awareness of Special Olympics Ontario. Over the years, through events like the Torch Run and the Polar Dip, efforts have raised millions of dollars.