Exploits shines as provincial hosts
Voices are just beginning to recover for the participants and supporters of the Special Olympics after over 250 athletes descended on Grand Falls-Windsor for the 2011 provincial bowling tournament.
© Danielle Shugarue photo
The Exploits Special Olympics entered the opening ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympic Provincial Bowling Tournament with the Herder Champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts this past Friday. Exploits hosted the event that was attended by over 250 athletes.
"It was an exciting time for everyone - they loved it," said Shawn Feener, president of the Exploits Special Olympics. "The support we had from the volunteers for the town from the donations and contributors to the group it was phenomenal. We could not ask for more than we could possibly ever expect."
Bowling alleys in Grand Falls-Windsor and Lewisporte were packed with athletes, supporters and excitement.
The opening ceremonies at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium were an indication of Feener's vision to bring the Exploits community into the Special Olympics with the fans, political figures and the Herder champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts on hand to celebrate and welcome the province.
Previous presidents of the Exploits Special Olympics have helped progress the organization, but when Feener took over in November, he wanted to take the next step.
"When I took this over one of the big issues I wanted to do was get our organization back out in the front - to say "yes, we are here,'" he said.
Exploits teams came away with the most spirited team award, a silver medal and a gold medal and several individual medals to boot.
Johnny Feener and Robyn Cater won the Jack Murphy awards for Exploits.
"It was an exceptional weekend from the get-go right to the end," he said. "The support the workers, the volunteers we had there, the security everything was phenomenal."
Feener said words cannot express how grateful he is for all of their assistance throughout the three months of planning and have it come together the way it did.
"We had the program director form St. John's personally say to us that he has been involved in national and provincial competitions and this was by far one of the best that he has been at provincially and nationally," said Feener. "I don't know anymore we could have done."
Feener said the community involvement during the event shows the Exploits Special Olympics is front and centre in the region. That is important to the organization that their athletes get the recognition they deserve.
"It doesn't take much to put a smile on their face and (this) was extraordinary," said Feener. "A lot of people a lot of organizations and business in town are really getting onside and they could not get over the enthusiasm that was there this weekend."
Feener admitted he could have talked about the weekend for hours and the number of stories and thank-yous were overwhelming.
"We can have competitions around local groups in central Newfoundland and that is just as important as provincials, but when you get everyone from the province, everybody comes together," he said. "We all loved every bit of it and just to see each other. I'm lost for words. It was exceptional."