By Sean Rooney on October 18, 2018.
In her nearly three decades of volunteering with the Special Olympics, Pat Enns has seen plenty of changes and lots of friendly faces come and go.
One of the newest friends she’s met shared the stage with her in receiving a provincial award this past weekend.
Enns and Jaelynn Funk were honoured by Special Olympics Alberta Saturday night, the two Medicine Hat volunteers rewarded for what they’ve done both recently and, in Enns’ case, as far back as 1989.
“It puts into perspective the amount of dedication and time I’ve been with the organization, acknowledging that I work as a leader within the organization and to my group here,” said Enns, who’s officially volunteered for 26 years but notes she got started “28, 29” years ago.
Enns was named Volunteer of the Year, while Funk, who’s only been involved in the local organization for a couple seasons, earned the title of Volunteer Rising Star.
“She started a couple years ago doing some coaching, then last year became chairperson of Medicine Hat Special Olympics,” Enns said of Funk. “She’s working at building a good group here, focusing on the future. She’s quite young, she’s got a ton of energy.”
Which is to say Funk reminds Enns of herself.
Funk’s been instrumental in adding sports like bocce, floor hockey and now basketball to the mix for local Special Olympics athletes. There’s even a program focusing on youth which includes siblings. When Enns started it was just 10-pin bowling; she’s seen 5-pin bowling, swimming and powerlifting added to the local sporting menu for those with intellectual challenges.
“It’s to promote Special Olympics and sport, and that’s good to see,” said Enns, who will help coach Team Canada at the Special Olympics worlds in Abu Dhabi next year. “Acknowledging people with disabilities and intellectual disabilities all deserve the same opportunities to participate in sport.”
Southern Alberta was well represented at the annual awards and general meeting at the Grey Eagle Casino, as Lethbridge’s Steven Thackray and Carissa Burch were named male and female athletes of the year, respectively.
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