Floor hockey competition was close, fun and intense at the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in Vernon. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)

Special Olympics B.C. Games a huge hit

Winter Games in Vernon an overwhelming success for 800 athletes/coaches, 1,000-plus volunteers

It will be a week Glenn Benischek will forever remember.

The chairperson of the organizing committee for the Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games, which wrapped in Greater Vernon Saturday, was glowing Sunday.

“The week went off fantastically,” said Benischek. “It is a highlight of my life, something I’ll never forget. Just seeing the appreciation and having the athletes come up to me individually, sharing their experiences and how exciting this event was for them in their lives.”

More than 800 athletes, coaches and mission staff converged on the North Okanagan for the largest Winter Games in Special Olympics B.C. history.

Athletes competed in front of large crowds in five-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.

The competitors qualified to advance to the 2019 Provincial Games by competing in regional qualifiers in 2018. They come to the Games with their regional teams representing the eight sport regions of B.C. and the Yukon.

At these Games, athletes were competing for the chance to advance to the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. Those National Games will be the qualifier for the 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Sweden.

Opening ceremonies were held at Kal Tire Place Thursday, complete with the lighting of the Games torch, made in Vernon at A1 Machine and Welding, which will be used at future Games.

RELATED: Special Olympics B.C. Games torch made in Vernon

RELATED: Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games continue in Vernon

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback, quotes that these were the best Games the athletes have come to,” said Benischek. “I’m very proud of the energy of our volunteers to make it happen. The athletes had a great time.”

More than 1,000 volunteers helped out, making the Games flow smoothly in all aspects, from competition to awards, food, lodging and busing.

“The volunteers were magical,” said Benischek. “They helped everything come alive, just amazing.”

RELATED: Meet Vernon Special Olympics hometown heroes

Volunteers, who were honoured with an appreciation breakfast Sunday, were also touched by the Games.

One wrote on her Facebook page: “What an amazing day up at Silver Star with the Special Olympians from B.C., Alberta and the Yukon. These athletes give their all and are the most appreciative people you ever want to meet. Rock stars each and every one of them!!! I thank you!”

A Victory Dance was held for athletes and coaches only Saturday at Kal Tire Place. There was no public closing ceremony.

Athletes were on the buses heading for their homes Sunday morning.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lakestone community unveiled in Lake Country

Mayor Baker, MLA Norm Letnick and MP Stephen Fuhr joined in the ceremonial opening

Lake Country mayor says municipal fines are not high enough to make businesses comply

Recent commercial infractures shed light on the municipality’s bylaw insufficiencies

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Summer sun for Sunday

The forecast for the week ahead shows some rain but plenty of sun and warm tempertures.

Update: Structure fire reported in Kelowna industrial area put out

A structure fire was reported just after 3:30 p.m. off Sexsmith Road

Kelowna e-scooter company foils downtown robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water qulity notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Second osprey chick dies, Okanagan web cam off

The second chick in an osprey nest featured on the Town of Osoyoos website has died

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

Fire department helps with body recovery in Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Police on scene at Penticton beach

RCMP were at a what is believed to be a crime scene near Skaha Beach Sunday

Community service ordered for Princeton man who stole from firefighters

A young man who stole food and money from the Princeton Volunteer… Continue reading

Most Read