Betty Fast (back from left)

Betty Fast (back from left)

Special Olympics program ramping up in Williams Lake

A group of Williams Lake athletes hope to go for gold as part of the Special Olympics BC program.

A group of Williams Lake athletes hope to go for gold as part of the Special Olympics BC program.

Up to 12 players including Betty Fast, Linda Evans, Ian Stafford, Kevin Zrinski, James McKenzie, Lorraine Dick, Connie Christopher, Ryan Casey and Miranda Wycotte have been building up their soccer skills for the past several weeks with plans to compete in regional, provincial and, possibly, national Special Olympics Games.

A team of committed volunteers — Jessica Means, Mary Kay Simpson and Monday Club Fit coach Lynn Parkes and soccer coaches Kelvin Parent, Craig Hilker and Vanessa Hansen — have jumped on board to help manage and train the athletes in their quest for glory.

Staples has also jumped on board, as it has in the past, to help the athletes fundraise.

“This is the first year we’ve actually had people who are going locally to qualify for the Special Olympics,” Staples staff member Missy Swears said. “It’s pretty exciting.

“Hopefully we can make our goal which was to beat last year’s goal of $1,500. We’re currently sitting at about $800 right now.”

The players, meanwhile, meet weekly for practices at various fields and parks throughout the city where they work on improving their soccer skills while learning the rules of the game.

The team is currently preparing for regional qualifying games June 4-5 in Quesnel.

“It’s good exercise and it’s fun to be on a team,” Christopher said Monday while practicing with the group.

McKenzie, an avid sports fan, agreed.

“I like sports,” he said. “[And] learning new skills.”

To help the team fundraise, Staples is hosting a bake sale this Friday, May 20 from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. where donations can be made.

Staples is also running a Share a Toonie Share a Dream campaign where donations can be made at the store until May 29.

Swears said donations help provide daily opportunities for play, training and competition and help promote healthier and physically active lifestyles, plus boost confidence and self esteem in the players.

The Special Olympics program in Williams Lake is still relatively new, Parkes said, adding they’re looking forward to building the program further.

Means, the fundraising co-ordinator for Special Olympics in Williams Lake, encouraged people to attend the bake sale and barbecue Friday, where players will be in attendance helping out.

“It’s been a little bit slow [fundraising] because people are donating to Fort McMurray,” Means said. “We haven’t had Special Olympics for years and I know all the athletes are very excited to get started again.

“We’ve been working really hard to get everything set up and we’re just trying to raise money for Special Olympics and create awareness.

“They [Staples] haven’t had any athletes come in to do the fundraiser with them for a few years so it should be awesome.”

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