Russell County OPP Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics

Above, Alexi Legault and Sébastien Beauchesnes who have been participating in the Special Olympics program at Ecole Secondaire Catholique Casselman since it’s inauguration three years ago. Courtesy photo

Community supporting local athletes by helping them get to the world stage

EMBRUN — Local community supporters in 50 communities across the province will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics movement on March 25. The Russell County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Detachment is one of those communities that is raising awareness of the celebration, and in support of local high school athletes who are 50 days away from competing at the inaugural 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games (IYG).

Together, with other longstanding supporters such as the Knights of Columbus, communities are hosting a flag raising ceremony, send off celebration and raising awareness of the Draft an Athlete Campaign to help successfully draft local athletes who will be competing on the world stage May 14 to May 17, in Toronto, Ontario. The local school that has qualified to date for these games is the Ecole Secondaire Catholique of Casselman, who will be competing in athletics and traditional basketball.

Today’s provincial goal across all 50 celebrating communities is to raise $50,000 to go towards the Draft an Athlete campaign. Every $1,000 raised drafts an athlete competing at the games with 100 percent of the contribution helping to fund travel, accommodation, food and competition costs. Any donations that exceed $20 are eligible for tax deductions.

The IYG are among several events marking the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics worldwide. These games will break new ground, hosting athletes with and without intellectual disabilities who will compete against and alongside each other.

Quote by the Embrun Detachment Commander:

Detachment Commander, Luc Duval: “This will be the first time that most of these athletes with an intellectual disability will compete outside of their own school and community. Your support is helping fulfill a dream and help make friendships and memories that last a lifetime”

The Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games, held in Toronto May 14 to May 17, will unite 2,500 student athletes between the ages of 13 and 21, with and without intellectual disabilities, from around the world, and their coaches. The event will be hosted by the Toronto Police Service, with the support of the Province and the City of Toronto, the #YouthGames2019 will create a worldwide sporting and communal legacy during the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.

Students from Ecole Secondaire Catholique of Casselman who qualified:

CASSELMAN — A special lifelong bond has been created between Alexi Legault and Sébastien Beauchesnes participating in the Special Olympics program at Ecole Secondaire Catholique Casselman since it’s inauguration three years ago.

Alexi, now 21-years-old, is in his last year in the Special Needs Program at the school. Sebastien, in grade 11, is considered one of the better athletes at the school.

During the initial two years, the boys were part of the ESCC unified basketball team which qualified for the Ontario provincial championships and were Silver medal winners in the first year.

The big moment for these young men happened in July 2018 when they were chosen to play for Team Canada at the inaugural World Unified Soccer Championship tournament in Chicago.

Wearing the red Maple Leaf on their jerseys, travelling together to Toronto for training camp and joining their Canadian teammates to fly to Chicago for a week has help to create their lifetime bond.

The story is not over yet for these two young men. They recently qualified for the May 2019 Youth Games to be held in Toronto. This time they will be representing their school and participating in floor hockey.

The roots have been planted and hopefully their story and bond will continue growing.

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