OUT ON A LIMB: An inspiring weekend at the BC Special Olympics

Athletic competition is athletic competition and it doesn’t matter who or what level of ability is involved

One of the most touching of many touching moments at last weekend’s BC Special Olympics competition in Langley came while waiting for the opening ceremonies to start.

I had made my way to a seat in the stands at the Langley Events Centre. Two big screens hung on either side of the stage at one end of the arena. While checking my cameras so I would be ready to capture the athletes as they walked in, the screen lit up and a video began playing. By the end of it, my eyes were filled with tears and I fought to keep them from spilling out. One managed to escape and it slid down my cheek.

The video that played on the screen featured Campbell River athlete Bryan Jorgensen who I’ve come to know a little bit from hanging around various practices and events after my daughter has gotten involved in Special Olympics.

It’s a touching video showcasing Bryan as a competitor in swimming and featuring the strong support he gets from his family. A multi-sport athlete, Bryan competed in soccer in last weekend’s Summer Games (see page A29).

The BC Special Olympics website says documentary filmmaker Naim Sutherland wanted to create a visually striking piece that would be “part documentary and part high-end sports commercial.”

“I was immediately drawn to Bryan’s story of growing up in a small town (Campbell River) where he didn’t know there were other people like him. It seemed to me that Special Olympics must have provided him with a very strong sense of community, and that is a powerful story,” Sutherland says. “I hope his story illustrates what Special Olympics means to the athletes and their families, and I hope by capturing that story we can inspire people to support Special Olympics.”

My daughter Hannah has gotten involved in Special Olympics and I can personally attest to the value it provides athletes and their families. I was sitting in the stands at the Langley Events Centre by myself because my wife and daughter were about to march into the arena with the Region 6 team as athlete and coach. Hannah competed in track and field and we were there in the stands at the McLeod Stadium in Langley cheering on she and her Campbell River and Vancouver Island teammate as well as all the other athletes from around the province and the Yukon

Athletic competition is athletic competition and it doesn’t matter who or what level of ability is involved. A race is a race and the effort involved is the same and the achievement of success is the same whether it is the London Olympics or the Langley BC Special Olympics.

I can tell you one thing, though, it would be hard to imagine the joy being greater than the happiness and pride of effort I saw last weekend.

And it was pretty exciting to have it all kick off with a beautiful video about an athlete from my own town.