The annual Special Olympic B.C. Games were held in Kamloops last weekend from Thursday, Feb. 2 to Saturday, Feb. 4, where 500 athletes, hundreds of volunteers and staff members, and important sponsors all put on a historic event.
This year had an extra special feeling to it because it was the first time the games were held in four years due to the Covid-19 pandemic putting a pause on them.
For the locals of Golden, there is much to be celebrated as athletes from the small town represented well bringing home multiple gold and silver medals in the process.
There were five athletes, including Sebastian Gylander who brought home two gold and one silver. Shelly Poland won silver, Tyler Kamstra won three gold medals, and John and Sam Templeton each brought gold, silver and bronze medals as well.
Each province holds their own version of the games and participants are not only participating to win provincially, but also attempt to secure a spot on the national team and eventually go to the world games.
Gylander, according to his mother Dona, was supposed to attend the world championships this year in Russia. They were postponed due to the invasion of Ukraine. He is now working hard to secure a spot for the next competition in Italy in 2025.
As for the games themselves, Dona, who also sits on the Golden Special Olympics committee, believes that they breed a tight-knit community that preaches love and acceptance.
“All of our kiddos have some type of intellectual disability and they act in different and unique ways. The thing is, everyone accepts it and it becomes their place of belonging. We all celebrate our athletes, it’s like they’re part of our family and when everyone comes home, we celebrate them with everyone in the community,” Dona said.
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