Lasalle Secondary School played host to police officers and Special Olympians Oct. 25 in a friendly game of hoops. While the score didn't really matter, what did was the fact hundreds of dollars were raised for Sudbury Special Olympics.
For $3, Lasalle students were given the chance to buy their way out of class. They also received a pair of red shoelaces to help celebrate Be a Fan Day, a nationwide celebration to honour achievements of the past while igniting the flame of hope for the future, to create awareness, to recruit new athletes, coaches and volunteers, and to celebrate the supporters. In the end, Lasalle handed over a cheque for $800.
“Wearing the red laces is one way people can show that they support this cause,” said Greater Sudbury Police Service Sgt. Joanne Pendrake. “Pretty much any event going on in the country today, someone will likely be wearing red laces.”
Be a Fan Day also recognizes the important and special relationship that Special Olympics Canada has with the law enforcement community. Oct. 25 marks the 25th anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Run and the goal is to share the story of the run while raising awareness of the tremendous benefit of providing sport opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability.
In Sudbury, Special Olympics has been present for more than 20 years. Today, there are more than 300 athletes participating in about 14 different sports, vying for regional, provincial and national competitions every year, said Lynn Houle, community co-ordinator for Sudbury Special Olympics.
“(The red laces) are also a way to tie us all together,” said Houle.
It's only the second year for basketball for Sudbury Special Olympics, she said, and the Lasalle game against Greater Sudbury Police Service was actually the first game outside of a practice for local Special Olympians.
“There aren't too many teams in the country, and there are only three teams within Northern Ontario, so we haven't had a chance to meet yet and play,” she said.
The athletes enjoyed their time playing with police officers and members of the Lasalle Lancers basketball team, she said.
Meanwhile, the celebration will continue on Oct. 26 as the Sudbury Wolves square off against the Niagara IceDogs. Sudbury Special Olympics will be there selling red laces to anyone interested, Houle said.
The federal government also paid tribute to Be a Fan Day.
“Today, I am pleased to join our inspiring Special Olympians in celebrating the first Be a Fan Day,” said Minister of State Bal Gosal. “As a proud supporter of Special Olympics Canada, our government is pleased to help spread awareness of athletes with intellectual disabilities and to recognize the outpouring of community support for these amazing role models. I encourage all Canadians to show their support for this wonderful campaign.”
Special Olympics Canada is the Canadian franchise holder for Special Olympics Games. It is a national not-for-profit organization that provides sport training and competition opportunities for more than 35,000 athletes of all ages and abilities with an intellectual disability. They are supported by 17,000 volunteers, including more than 13,500 trained coaches.
Anyone interested in purchasing red laces and supporting Special Olympics can call Houle at 705-855-1219 or Greater Sudbury Police Service at 705-675-9171.