A beautiful memory

2016 Games embraced by Special Olympians

Dave Kearsey dkearsey@thewesternstar.com
Published on March 14, 2016

Sarah Connell of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Melanie Taylor of Conception Bay South made up the Newfoundland and Labrador figure skating team at the recent 2016 Special Olympic Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook.

©Submitted photo/via The Western Star

Greg Hall strutted around the hardwood floor giving fist pumps after he scored his first goal in front of his family and friends.

He had a big smile on his face and looked into the stands to see if anybody noticed. His eyes came focused on his family members who were cheering from the bleachers and he saw their big smiles so he got the answer he was hoping for at that magical moment.
It was just a sample of the care and affection displayed on and off the field during the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, which wrapped recently with some medals being handed out in floor hockey and the closing ceremonies followed later in the afternoon with the big dance putting the final touches on a special time for special people.
Hall’s first goal, a wrist shot from the slot beating the goaltender cleanly, came in a 7-2 loss to Prince Edward Island in the gold-medal game Saturday afternoon at Corner Brook Regional High School gymnasium.
He gave his family members a big thumbs up after the final was over and he had a silver medal in his pocket to show for his efforts. It was an exciting time for him as he shared the limelight with his friends and had so many supportive people behind him in his quest for a medal on home soil.
“It was beautiful. It was very emotional. I’m very happy,” Hall said when asked to sum up his feelings on the Games and the support he got at the Games. “It was good to have everybody here to watch me.”
He made new friends and got to spend some time back on the west coast after moving to Paradise a few years back so it was an event he won’t soon forget. He had fun and did his best so that’s just fine with him.
“The atmosphere was great during the Games,” he said when asked about the experience.
The city played host to more than 1,000 Special Olympians and supporters during the course of five days.
From coast to coast, athletes put on a display of love, courage and sportsmanship while showcasing the impressive skillsets they boast from the years of working hard with their coaches in an effort to be the best they could be.
Onslow Brenton of St. John’s has been around the block when it comes to Special Olympics national events, having been a coach for the province’s floor hockey team at two previous Games, so he has seen a lot of the closeness that exists between fellow Special Olympians.
The bond between them, regardless of what province they were representing, was certainly on display at these Games too, according to the silver-medal winning coach.
“You look around and you see the smiles on the athletes’ faces,” Brenton said. “Whether they win or lose you see them going around high-fiving each other. It’s a real camaraderie among all of them.”
Six of the participants wearing Newfoundland and Labrador’s colours hail from the west coast of the province, including speed skater Brandon Park, a young man who stole the hearts of fans at the speed skating venue with four medals in his grasp in his debut on the national stage.
His mom, Lisa Burridge of McIver’s, put things in perspective from a parent’s point of view.
“I thought it was just totally awesome,” Burridge said. “It was one of the best experiences I ever had and very thankful that I did have the opportunity to do it.”
As for the smiling faces who made us all think about what’s really important in life, perhaps Corner Brook’s own Nikki King put things in perspective.
“I was just so happy to be there,” King said during the Games.