21 March, 2017
Downhill ski coach Ron Struch (left), snowshoe coach Joanne Zahaiko (middle) and floor hockey athlete Elijah Wood (right) are three of the 10 Manitobans representing Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, which began March 14 and finish March 25 in Graz, Austria.
Against the rain, the opening ceremony became a spectacular show at the small town Schladming of the Styria state, as the stadium was turned into a visual dream land for the audience in the celebration of life and happiness.
Houk, who has been involved with Special Olympics for six years, also likes to run and kayak.
She also won the Good Citizen's Award Daughters of the Revolution and has taken home gold medals in local and state competitions, according to her bio on the Special Olympics USA website.
There was bowling, basketball, swimming and a host of other sports, including cross country skiing. "She really focuses in on the sport she is competing in at the time and she really does her best".
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Madison Englund is at the top of her game. The event offers team and individual skills competitions. "The whole family says if we bottled her enthusiasm, we'd make a fortune".
Athletes like Mauro are just one of the reasons Winter and other members of SCPD have supported Special Olympics throughout the years through various Tip-A-Cop evenings and other fundraising efforts, all of which result in the Northern California Law Enforcement Torch Run program raising over $1,000,000 each year for the organization.
But aside from skiing, what she's most looking forward to is seeing new places and meeting new people. "I'm more excited than nervous, but I try to keep it all in perspective".
"I hope that everybody would watch for me and cheer me on", she said.
"It's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity", her dad said.