Special Olympics Gala shines the spotlight

One thing is true.  Special Olympics is “sticky.”

Each year at our Special Olympics Gala we celebrate the accomplishments of our heroes – coaches, athletes, volunteers, officials and teams. Listening to these amazing people share their reasons why they give their time so selflessly to others in their community is always inspiring.  Here at Special Olympics Nova Scotia, we do all we can to move the organization forward in a way that ensures it’s stability for the next generation of athletes.

But it is these heroes that have the best jobs of all of us.

Daren Simmons, 2015 Male Coach of the Year, said it best.

Was there a mentor, teacher, coach or other volunteer who made a difference or had an impact in YOUR life?  A person who gave you the courage, determination and zeal to strive to be all that you could be?  Someone who helped shape both your performance and your character?  How fantastic is it that WE can be that important person in someone else’s life.”

The power behind that statement rings true for so many who week after week give up those few valuable work-free hours to dedicate their time to coaching.

Lisa and AthleteLisa Hines, 2015 Female Coach of the Year, believes in that same passion. For 15 years, she has been volunteering with the Amherst Special Olympics group.  Her commitment to volunteering was instilled in her through her family’s actions.

Both of my parents were volunteer coaches in our community in Softball and Hockey, as well as community groups, church groups and anywhere else that needed a helping hand.” Lisa continues, “Volunteering for me was always a natural fit, and combining that with sport joins the best of the two worlds that I hold dear.”

So much so, that even though she currently resides in Lawrencetown, her weekends often involve long hours on the road travelling back to Amherst to be with her athletes.  “I saw the wonderful opportunities that the athletes were given and how they give their all in everything they do, and I thought, the least I can do is give them my all too. While I have tried my hand at several different sports, Floor Hockey and Soccer are the two I love the most.”

Lisa has invested in her coaching as well.  She is NCCP certified in Special Olympics Community and Competition, and NCCP Youth Soccer and has also taken online courses in Fair Play/Ethical Decision Making and Concussion Prevention.

SONS is home for me. The most wonderful, giving, selfless and inspiring people I have ever met proudly wear the SONS logo.”

DarenTrack and Field
Coach of the Year Daren Simmons – Bottom Left

When you meet Daren Simmons you instantly know that the star qualities that make you coach of the year are a part of all that he does as well. He has committed to being the best he can be through training in his coaching and has Athletics Sport Coach certification, Special Olympics Competition Coach, Multisport Coach and recently added Rhythmic Gymnastics and numerous modules, webinars and conferences to his CV over 13 years.

You can say that I have an invested interest in Special Olympics with two of our boys heavily involved as athletes.  However, it isn’t something that we dedicate our time to. It is essentially who we are.’

Special Olympics has engrained itself into the very fabric of our athletes, coaches, volunteers and families.  Daren and his wife Kem are true examples of the power of our movement beyond the results on the scoreboard.

“At Special Olympics our coaches and volunteers go further than just teaching the skills and spirit that define an athlete.  Our volunteers are more than just role models and character builders.  They help athletes with intellectual disabilities find their own strengths and their own abilities. They then show them how to build upon those strengths and witness the zeal to strive for improvement.” 

Join us January 27th at the Cunard Centre in Halifax and be inspired by these heroes. Your support provides valuable programming and services to Special Olympic athletes right here in Nova Scotia every day of the week. Buy your tickets today.