A B.C. festival that emphasizes sports inclusion for those living with developmental disabilities is worried about the future of the organization and annual festival.
Operation Trackshoes’ volunteer staff said that 2023 will be its final year, as they do not have the staff or funds needed to continue the event.
“After much deliberation the Operation Trackshoes’ board of directors has made the very difficult decision that 2023 will be our final as we do not have the personnel and other resources needed to continue the event beyond this year,” a spokesperson said in an email.
The organization started in 1971, when a group of people watched a film on the special olympics and thought about creating a camp to connect those living with disabilities and sports.
The festival is a weekend-long event, held at the University of Victoria every June. The entire operation is operated by volunteers and more than 500 athletes come and compete in track and field events, bunking together in a camp.
Operation Trackshoes’ president, Judith Armstrong, said the decision to shut down after 2023 was extremely difficult.
“We’re at the point where we feel that we don’t have the resources to continue beyond 2023,” she said.
“It’s a very difficult decision to make and it’s one we’ve been looking at for some time. It requires a lot of volunteer commitment and resources to continue beyond 2023. We are grateful to have all the great years we’ve had.”
Athletes between the ages of six and 80 are welcomed to the weekend, and other activities are also held such as swimming, softball, basketball, dances, concerts and banquets.
The event is still looking for volunteers for this year’s events, which is scheduled for June 9-11.
“The community of Victoria has been huge in the participation (of volunteer work), and we are really hoping we can rely on them once again. We need councillors and all types of other roles,” Armstrong said.
“This will be the celebration of our last 50 years.”
Those interested in volunteering to help with the final sendoff of the event can head over to Operation Trackshoes’ website for more information.