Special Olympics athletes one step closer to national competition

On July 27, the Kin Club of Thompson hosted a barbecue fundraiser at MacLean Park, where they raised $587 to help send two northern athletes to the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

Thompson Special Olympics coach Sherrie Benner told the Thompson Citizen that this money will be used to pay for the flights and hotel rooms of William Hart and Flora Francois, both of whom qualified for this national competition after scoring gold at the provincial games in Winnipeg earlier this year.

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Hart will represent Team Manitoba in alpine skiing, a sport he’s been trying to perfect for the last three years.

“I’ll be prepping him for everything possible,” said Scott Luxton, Hart’s ski coach. “He’ll be doing summer training at least once or twice a week, and then he’s supposed to be going down in September to Team Manitoba [in Winnipeg] to do some more training with them and we’ll see what happens from there.”

This won’t be Hart’s first national competition, since he also took part in the 2016 national Special Olympics in Corner Brook, Newfoundland as a figure skater.

Meanwhile, Francois will be attempting to repeat her gold medal performance in five-pin bowling from the 2010 summer games in London, Ontario.

“I just want her to do her average and better,” said Benner. “That’s our goal. Just keep plugging away and have a great time doing it, because in Special Olympics that’s what it’s all about: friendship, sportsmanship and experience.”

Anyone interested in helping to sponsor Hart and Francois can contact Benner directly at 204-670-5399.

The upcoming Canada Special Olympics are taking place next Feb. 25-29 in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

This event is set to feature 1,200 athletes, coaches and officials from all over the country.

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