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Special O toonie fundraiser a success

Volunteer coaches needed to keep program thriving and able to expand
Special Olympic athletes Andrea Conkin, Carmela Klassen, Wyatt Turney, and Levi Fowler celebrate the return of their Toonie K fundraiser on March 18, 2023.

The Fort St. John Special Olympics annual Toonie K fundraiser was a success Saturday.

Local athletes walked laps and raised money at the Pomeroy Centre to support the local programs and initiatives, the first time the event has been held since 2019 due to Covid restrictions.

By noon, they had already raised close to $4,700 in donations and pledges.

“The money all goes back towards the athletes, programs, and paying for events and facilities. All the coaches are volunteers,” said Lynette Gula, treasurer for Special Olympics in Fort St. John. “These fundraisers help pay for the team to participate in events that are outside our community.”

Special O bowlers recently won a bronze medal at Provincials, and now wait to find out if they will be competing at Nationals in Calgary.

“I’ve been bowling for 20 years, since I was four,” says athlete rep Levi Fowler, who raised $790 and competes in bowling, golf and curling.

When asked what winning the bronze medal at provincials meant to him, only one word was needed: “Huge.”

“It’s a great way for the athletes to be involved, socially, to be involved in an activity that gets them out and about,” said Gula. “It builds skill and confidence.”

Kim Turney has volunteered as a coach ten years for the SOBC Team, leading numerous local athletes to prestigious events.

“If we can get the volunteers, we can have the sports. My eyes and ears are open all the time for volunteers and athletes here in Fort St John,” said Turney.

Donations are still being accepted online where residents can add their support and help athletes meet their goal.

“If we don’t have the volunteers and we don’t have the athletes, then the program collapses, and those that are interested and want to, can’t," said Gula. "If we can increase the athlete participation and can have the coaches available, it opens a whole new availability to people and allows the programs to expand.”

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