Sault hosting 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Winter Games

May 03, 2017

SOO-Web

For the first time ever, Sault Ste. Marie has been selected to host a Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games.

The 2019 event will feature competitions in six winter sports: Nordic Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Curling and Snowshoeing. With an opening ceremony and a number of area venues being used, including John Rhodes Community Centre, Essar Centre, Community First Curling Centre and Searchmont Ski Resort, the community will have an opportunity to take part in this exciting celebration.

Involving hundreds of participating athletes from across the province, the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games were bid on by Sault Ste. Marie Police Services, in partnership with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. The city last hosted the Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Summer Games in 2001 and, with the success of that event, officials were eager to return.

“We are extremely proud and excited to once again be working with the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie in hosting the 2019 Provincial Winter Games,” said Glenn MacDonell, President and CEO of Special Olympics Ontario. “We know first-hand that Sault Ste. Marie is a great sports city with true community spirit and engagement. I know Sault Ste. Marie will be very excited to welcome Special Olympics once again, with an outpouring of support through volunteer engagement, sponsorships and partnerships, which will be vital to the success of these games.”

Held every four years on a rotating basis, the Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games tend to attract around 1,000 athletes, coaches, officials and families. Based on figures from the last event held in North Bay, the 2019 Winter Games are expected to generate a direct economic impact of approximately $1 million for Sault Ste. Marie.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community,” said Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Our city has top-notch recreation and accommodation venues, and we look forward to showcasing these facilities while welcoming visitors from across Ontario. Attracting major city-wide events is one of our core activities, and we’re thrilled to be working with community partners on securing the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games.”

Special Olympics is the designated charity of choice for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and for policing bodies around the world. “We’re very proud that Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has been selected as the host agency for the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games,” said Chief Robert Keetch. “The Games will demonstrate the true community spirit here in Sault Ste. Marie, with numerous local volunteers and organizations coming together to support those with intellectual disabilities.”

The Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games are taking place January 31 to February 3, 2019 and will run alongside Bon Soo Winter Carnival. It also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics in Canada. Volunteers and sponsors are required to deliver and support the four-day event. Updates and calls for volunteers will be released in the coming months.

Constable Shaun Beaulieu, of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, is serving as Games Manager for the 2019 Winter Games. “Speaking to the athletes of Special Olympics, its founder Eunice Kennedy-Shriver was once quoted as stating, ‘You are the stars and the world is watching you. By your presence, you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory,’” said Beaulieu. “This message of inclusion continues to grow today and, in 2019, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this movement coming to Canada, right here in our city, surrounded by all of its natural beauty, historically known for being a great place to meet. As Games Manager, I look forward to welcoming the athletes of Special Olympics to our community as we celebrate their abilities, surrounded by their friends, families and supporters. In winter 2019, the stars meet in Sault Ste. Marie.”

Participants in the Special Olympics Ontario Provincial Winter Games can qualify to advance to the National Games. To learn more, visit www.specialolympicsontario.com. For more information on Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, go to www.saulttourism.com.

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