The Motionball Marathon of Sport was held in City Park in Kelowna on Sept. 23, 2017. - Image: Mark Dreger

Kelowna athletes take part in Motionball fundraiser

About 350 athletes and 60 volunteers competed in the Marathon of Sport event

By Mark Dreger

Kelowna residents gathered in City Park Saturday to participate in the 6th Annual Motionball event to raise funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation.

About 350 athletes and 60 volunteers competed in the Marathon of Sport event with each team having at least one of the 44 Special Olympians on their roster. Athletes played football, soccer, Frisbee, basketball, ball hockey, and even human foosball to name a few.

“We want to educate young professionals on intellectual disabilities and the Special Olympics (SO) movement,” said Donnie Ungaro, motionball co-event director for Kelowna. “Two per cent of the Canadian population has an intellectual disability, yet only 20 per cent of those are in Special Olympics programs, so we want to get our generation involved in the movement as donors and coaches and sponsors and helping out with it.”

Motionball wants to help people integrate with Special Olympics’ athletes so that when they see someone with a disability on the street, they are encouraged to talk to them instead of shying away.

Peter, an SO athlete who attended his second Motionball event, enjoys meeting new people and having fun playing sports.

“I lot of people know that there’s people with disabilities that want to compete in sports just like people without,” Peter told the Capital News. “I did want to join sports when I was growing up in school. I did a few like track and field, but I didn’t really start doing sports until I joined Special Olympics.”

Peter has been a part of Special Olympics for four years and he will be playing in soccer nationals next summer.

Fellow special Olympic athlete Claire was the youngest participant in Motionball this year at 9-years-old. Claire said she likes playing basketball and hockey, but her favourite is ribbon gymnastics where she does cartwheels, handstands, and the splits.

“Having an intellectual disability doesn’t mean that they’re different than us,” said Erica Hudson, marketing director for Motionball. “They’re completely the same and they’re so talented, so it’s just good all around.”

Hudson first joined Motionball as a team member several years ago, but after experiencing the event firsthand meeting like-minded people and playing for a good cause, she joined the team and has been the marketing director for the last 2 years.

“There was somebody last year who had epilepsy who always wanted to be a part of sports but always felt kind of left out and now being a part of Special Olympics makes her feel like she can achieve anything and she’s doing outstanding,” Hudson said. “This event is not only a lot of fun, but is also bringing young professionals and the next generation of philanthropists together with Special Olympic athletes and the movement and just showing what it means to give back.”

Motionball in Kelowna has grown from 21 teams last year to 28 this year. According to Ungaro, donations have gone up between 35 and 40 per cent in the last year as awareness of the event increases.

Motionball plans to raise $100,000 for Special Olympic athletes and they are confident they will surpass their goal. Motionball has already raised $1.25 million this year nationwide. 100 per cent of the funds raised through Motionball Marathon of Sport will go towards expanding Special Olympics programming to increase accessibility to individuals who would benefit.

Over 6,000 supporters and Special Olympics athletes participate in 24 annual events across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax.

“If you haven’t heard of MotionBall, get involved,” Ungaro said. “The Special Olympians will change your life. We’re fortunate as young professionals and people without the disability, yet the athletes are happier and just kinder than us, so I think we have more to learn from them than they do for us.”

Just Posted

Need to catch up on news? You’re covered

Every Saturday the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Big White board school among best

Director of snow sports, Josh Foster, is one of the top instructors in Canada

Seniors prefer funeral to lifestyle planning

Survey finds 73% of seniors have a will, only 13% have long-term care plan

Okanagan College business students soar

Medal winners at Western Canadian Business Competition

UBCO civil engineer touts cohousing option

Gord Lovegrove says cohousing is sustainable social and economic lifestyle

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

Most Read