Meet some of the 36,000 Special Olympics Athletes across Canada.

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Tony Carter  

Special Olympics BC – Mission athlete Tony Carter was so excited about heading to the 2013 SOBC Summer Games. He competed in soccer, one of his favourite SOBC sports, and he and his team worked hard in anticipation of the Games. They trained at least twice a week in preparation to be able to do their best in Langley, and it paid off: They returned home as gold medallists.

Tony became a part of the SOBC – Mission family about 12 years ago when he heard that they offer floor hockey.

“It’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

This past February, Tony also started participating in Club Fit, and he just can’t get enough of it.

“I love Club Fit! I am just addicted to that,” he said. “I really wish it was year round.” He can’t wait to get back into it this fall.

Club Fit was an integral part of Tony’s Provincial Games preparation, as he has been working really hard to improve his fitness. He went beyond regular practices and Club Fit, and started working on his own to get into better shape. He rides his bike to work every day, and arrives early for practices to do extra laps of the track or walk around the field.

In addition to his very busy sports schedule, Tony works for the City of Mission, working hard to keep the streets of the downtown core clean. He also volunteers three times a week with the MCC.  He also loves to spend time with his friends, many of whom are fellow Special Olympics athletes.

Tony is very grateful for everything that Special Olympics has given him.

“It’s gotten me doing sports I’ve always wanted to do. It gets me to try new things. There’s lots of opportunities, and I’ve had lots of great new experiences out of it.”

Paul Sawka

Paul Sawka is 28 years old and was born with Down Syndrome. He got involved with Special Olympics Calgary in 2005 and has really enjoyed his previous six years of participation and is looking forward to his seventh this year! Paul participates in Curling and Softball and has also been involved with Golf in the past. His favourite Special Olympics memory is curling in the Alberta Provincial Winter Games in 2011.

Paul also works for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society as the Awareness Leader. He is a self advocate and in charge of keeping people informed by updating the facebook page and has his own blog about CDSS. A memorable moment of his is when he presented the Artist of the Year award in June 2012 on behalf of the CDSS in his role as Awareness Leader.

Between work and Special Olympics, when Paul has free time he enjoys playing video games, and watching TV and movies, his favourite being Camp Rock.

Julie Timmerman

In July 2010, Julie Timmermans was living life as any other young adult when suddenly and unexpectedly, she had a stroke. Weeks in the hospital and then therapy at home, has enabled Julie to return to life almost as it had been prior to the stroke.

The 26 year-old still tires easily and suffers seizures since the stroke, but she has returned to the Special Olympics sports of curling and rhythmic gymnastics. She volunteers her time at a nursery school and at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and in her spare time enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies and bowling and watching tv.

Philip Fregeau

Philip was born with Down Syndrome and lives with the intellectual and physical disabilities that result from that disorder. He bowls, swims, is in track and field and plays basketball. When he’s out competing, his physical and intellectual challenges are forgotten.

Participation in sports can be tremendously beneficial, but in Philip’s case it wasn’t easy. For instance, when he first started playing in the regular city soccer league, we would ask opposing teams to play a man short when Philip was on the field, because Philip couldn’t compete on an even footing with others his age. When opposing coaches refused, Philip’s team would often be scored upon, which was upsetting to his own teammates.

But when Philip plays soccer now, in a Special Olympics program, he is automatically grouped with others of the same ability level as himself. Soccer becomes fun again! Since he has been involved in Special Olympics, Philip’s speech and social skills have steadily improved.

Arthur Rea

My name is Arthur Rea and I am a Special Olympics Athlete. I have competed in many events and won some medals but before I joined Special Olympics I was always the last one to be picked and I was never the guy anyone wanted to hang around with.

Now, thanks to Special Olympics, I have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for now. The people who passed me over for sports are asking "Can I play too?".

Someone once asked me "How many medals do you have?" I said "I don't could medals because my medals are what I call my friends and if you want to now what colour they are I would have to say: all GOLD without a doubt!". I am so blessed to say that I can call the 1st family of Special Olympics my friends.

- Arthur Rea