The annual Motionball Marathon of Sport looked a lot different than years past in Kelowna.
Usually, teams fundraise for weeks across Canada before competing in a variety of sporting events, playing everything from volleyball to kickball to road hockey. All of the proceeds go to the Special Olympics.
This year, teams didn’t compete in-person but participated from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you spend a day with an athlete and see the joy in their lives, it changes someone,” said Derek Fuhr, Motionball Kelowna volunteer director. “For the Special Olympic athletes, it’s so much more than just sport for them — this is an opportunity for them to network, to surround themselves with like-minded people.”
Even though the novel coronavirus pandemic forced participants to remain apart, organizers say it was more important than ever to host the event virtually rather than cancel it.
“As they are slowly introducing the programming back to the athletes they are incurring new challenges in order to keep them safe and healthy. (It’s) increasing the cost of these events, so it’s actually more important than ever to be raising funds for the Special Olympic athletes,” said Fuhr.
In Kelowna so far this year participants have raised almost $60,000, an amount that was celebrated at numerous viewing parties when the virtual opening ceremonies were held.
Special Olympian Connor Kiester and his mother, Tina Kiester, tuned into the opening ceremony from home.
“He has learned a lot just getting out and being more social,” said Tina Kiester. “He is very athletic and this is where he shines; that’s the best thing for him.”
Organizers say it’s the little things that are keeping the athletes in touch.
“It’s been hard but it’s amazing how they adapt, that’s one of the gifts these athletes bring, they probably adapt better than most,” said Susan Foisy of Special Olympics Kelowna. “Our athletes are figuring out Zoom and Instagram and some are really super active on keeping others going.”
For more information about the Motionball Marathon of Sport and the Special Olympics, visit www.motionball.comView link »