Greater Trail Special Olympians are hoping to attract even more community support as they gear up for a full slate of activities this fall and winter.
The athletes enjoyed assistance from many organizations and volunteers last year and are canvassing for the same as they get set to jump into new programs and break out the equipment for such favourites as floor hockey, bowling, swimming, and downhill skiing.
The athletes start the year in high gear with a new Club Fit program at the Field House on Thursdays with special fitness instructor and MMA fighter Morgan River Jones.
“We’ve had our registration, and we’ve got more athletes this year, so everything we’re doing is working,” said coach/coordinator Ben Postmus.
And of course there will be the floor hockey night with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks at the Fruitvale Elementary on Tuesdays. It is better than ever this year, with games lined up with the Fruitvale Firefighters, RCMP, teachers, KBS, Kootenay Savings and more.
Skiing and bowling proved to be wildly popular, thanks to the cooperation of Red Mountain Resort, which supplied lift tickets and equipment for all the skiers, and Glenmerry Bowl in Trail.
“There must have been 40 people out bowling on Monday,” said Postmus. “It’s the one sport that is most accessible for everybody.”
While Postmus attributes much of the success of the Special Olympic program to the growing awareness and support in the community, a lot of the credit has to lie with the athletes themselves.
“I know a lot of times the perception is, ‘you don’t want to get too close, they might break,’ right, because they are very fragile, but they love to play, and they love it when its local personalities they get to interact and play with.”
While the athletes enjoy the activities, they are not without their competitive streak. Sixteen local athletes will join a contingent of 90, the most ever from the Kootenays, at the Special Olympic Summer Games in July, 2013, and will participate in swimming, bocce, golf, and five-pin bowling.
The organization is on the lookout for sponsors to help with expenses, and plan a special fundraiser and recognition night on Oct. 27, at its Halloween Party at the Fruitvale Hall. All proceeds go to the Trail Special Olympics.