Mary Adamson is thrilled to be competing in her first provincial Special Olympics.
“My favourite part of it is blowing past the finish line as fast as I can,” Adamson said.
The Vernon resident has been showshoeing competitively for about five years, and this weekend is a culmination of all her effort and practice.
She’ll be competing at the 2019 Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games, which is being hosted in Greater Vernon.
“It’s very exciting because this is the first time Vernon has ever hosted any games, whether it’s a Special Olympics, winter or summer,” said volunteer coach Janny Jung, who is training Adamson.
There will hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities from all across the province and the Yukon, competing in eight different sports that include five-pin bowling, alpine and cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, speed skating and snowshoeing.
“It’s similar to the regular Olympics,” Jung said. “They need to qualify at the regional games for the provincial games, and at the provincial games they get selected for the national games, and then to the world games.”
Jung said snowshoeing is relatively new to Vernon, having only been introduced about four years ago.
Adamson has been with the program the entire time.
“She loved it,” Jung said. “And just to see her grow through the years and see her improvement, I see a lot of potential in her.”
Jung isn’t the only proud cheerleader in the bunch.
Bonnie Laponder, Adamson’s home share provider for almost five years, has seen the transformation that the sport has sparked in Adamson.
“She went from a very shy, meek individual to now someone who is considered a leader in many of the venues that she’s in,” Laponder said. “She’s very outspoken, very confident, full of self-esteem. She wakes up every morning with this enthusiasm of ‘I just love my life’. I wish I could wake up with a similar drive.”
Laponder has played an active role in helping Adamson achieve her goal, taking her to practices and helping her prepare.
“Very inspirational,” Laponder said. “That no matter what the perceived barriers are, you can truly just live a life of meaning and purpose and do your best.”
Adamson, meanwhile, says she loves the sport and how it makes her feel.
“Being out, fresh air, maybe noticing birds and looking at trees and just enjoying running,” Adamson said. “Being with other people and racing against them and doing my personal best.”
The 2019 Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games will have an opening ceremony on Feb. 21, followed by two days of competition.
The public is invited to come out and support the competitors. All events are free of charge with a schedule posted on the website.