Pictured here are members of the Lacombe and District Special Olympics swim team.
photo submitted

A busy season for the Lacombe District Special Olympics

Organizers with the Lacombe & District Special Olympics are pleased with a bolstered number of participants as programs kicked off this fall.

“We’ve had a good post-COVID response – our numbers are higher than they were,” said Dwayne Campbell, the organization’s director. “We’ve also picked up some new volunteers, too, and some of them have experience with Special Olympics which makes it all the better.”

He’s also pleased to start spreading the word about two awareness-building community activities that local Special Olympics members will be hosting.

“These support a sense of inclusion for our affiliate within the community,” he explained.

One is a fun bowling challenge with local seniors, and the other is a similar type of event with local businesses.

Also, in prior years, the group would have a similar event with local auto dealers, but Campbell said they are planning to broaden it to more businesses or other community groups as a whole.

“They can be interactive with our athletes on a bowling team,” he said, adding that there would be sponsorship opportunities as well so it’s also a kind of fundraiser for Lacombe & District Special Olympics.

“It’s a way to do some fundraising and also have some community-building awareness with our group,” he said

Final details as to when these events are going to be held haven’t been ironed out yet, but Campbell said anyone interested can certainly contact him at 403-782-6921 or by email at adnil06@telus.net.

The group also has a team preparing to attend provincial competitions in February in Sherwood Park.

From Feb. 24-26, Strathcona County will be hosting the 2023 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games. Over 1,200 athletes, staff and volunteers from across the province will be joining for a weekend of competitive sporting events and fun.

In the meantime, Campbell’s involvement with the local affiliate was largely inspired by his son Warren, who is an athlete in the program.

To help support Warren’s involvement, Dwayne has served as chair of the affiliate, as well as through volunteering and handling coaching duties over the past 15 years.

Ultimately, the program is about joining in on the fun, being active through the weekly sports programs, being part of the local Special Olympics team and enjoying opportunities to meet new friends, he said.

Campbell said the local organization is also an affiliate of Alberta Special Olympics, and covers Blackfalds to Ponoka and Alix to Rimbey.

Programs are open to youth, teens and adults who are eligible to participate. Currently, fall/winter sports offered include five-pin bowling and swimming.

Bowling takes place at Ambassador Bowling Lanes Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. and Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. through to April 25th. The annual registration fee is $125.

Swimming takes place at the Burman University Athletic Center on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. through to April 11th. The annual registration fee is $75.

Looking ahead to the spring/summer session, programs include softball and Bocce ball.

Those interested in participating in summer sports are asked to check the appropriate box on the registration forms and registration will be finalized in April.

Meanwhile, a simplified registration procedure for new and returning athletes and volunteers is available on the Special Olympics Alberta website. Paper forms are also available.

Campbell said it’s just so important for the local athletes to be getting out, getting active again, and to be reconnecting with friends.

“They’re also meeting new friends, having fun and at the same time getting pretty pumped about it!”

For further information, contact Dwayne Campbell at 403-782-6921 or by email at adnil06@telus.net or Margorie Krossa by calling 403-357-4366 or by emailing dreamaway@telus.net.

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