Special Olympics and Safeway join forces

Steven Mah
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Special Olympics Canada has teamed up with Safeway in support of people living with intellectual disabilities and that support is benefitting athletes right here in Swift Current.

“The campaign, which is called ‘You Have the Ability to Make a Difference,’ it is a two-week campaign that runs province wide,” explained Chelsea Fidler, Director of Marketing and Development with Special Olympics Saskatchewan. “All the proceeds go to Special Olympics Saskatchewan. All the funds raised in our province stay in our province.”

Customers that donate $2 at Safeway during the campaign will receive five bonus Air Miles.

“We have a goal set of $3,600 for our store,” said Safeway’s Dustin Garies. “That started on March 7 and the end date is on March 21. Yesterday we were sitting at $775, so we are at about 32 percent of our goal and we expect to actually go past our goal, which we usually do.”

Garies said it was important for his store to help causes such as Special Olympics.

“I think it is good for the store itself to get out into the community and present itself. We do a tonne of different donations. We do Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Muscular Dystrophy. We like to get out in the community and present ourself as good corporate citizens.”

Swift Current’s Melody Radicki will benefit from the efforts of Safeway.

“I have been in Special Olympics for about seven years but in swimming for about the last three years. This past summer I went to Provincials in Saskatoon, which was an amazing experience for me because I didn’t think I would do well but I surprised myself and got two golds, a silver, and a bronze,” she explained.

She is hoping to go even further in the pool this season.

“This year I am an alternate to go to Nationals in Vancouver. I am training three times a week. I swim twice a week and I go to the gym once a week. Even if I don’t get to go to Nationals it has been an amazing experience because I am training and I never used to do that. I am really hoping that I can go, but even if I don’t get to go I look at it as being a very positive experience for me. It has helped me to learn to be a little more accepting of myself and a little less competitive.”

She said her time with Special Olympics has been a positive one all around.

“Yeah it is working with the group and having coaches. My coaches are very supportive of me, even when I get really negative and down on myself. They are really good at encouraging me and saying ‘just do your best.’ Even the mothers, not necessarily the coaches themselves, the mothers of the athletes themselves and everyone is always encouraging me to just do my best. Even if my best isn’t as good as other people, at least I have done my best.”

Fidler said the money would help athletes like Radicki participate in sport.

“It is really important for our athletes because this funding goes towards continuing our sport programing, which runs all year. It goes towards facility rentals or uniforms or whatever… It helps the communities buy what they are looking for and helps us continue to run programs.”

Fidler noted that Special Olympics has approximately 1,100 athletes and 500 volunteers in Saskatchewan. She also said that the contributions of businesses such as Canada Safeway are crucial to supplement government funding.

“Sponsorships are a big reason why we can do what we do… But the corporate sponsorships and the corporate partnerships that we have, not only does it increase the awareness in the communities, but it can help get more volunteers or athletes. There are a lot of people out there that maybe don’t know the programming that we offer, so these partnerships, not only do they bring in the money, but they also increase that awareness.”

Organizations: Canada Safeway, Special Olympics Saskatchewan, Olympics Canada Air Miles

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatoon, Vancouver Saskatchewan

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