It was a three-goal event. A chance to represent their province, pursue their passion in sports, and reconnect with their friends in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, were just a few of the highlights for athletes participating in the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games.
The community, fans, and volunteers cheered for more than 900 athletes while they competed in various sporting event s — all with hopes of qualifying to represent Canada on the world stage at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Some of the loudest cheers came from co-sponsor Sobeys’ Cheer Squad, a group of zealous fans celebrating every moment of the Games. The Cheer Squad was joined by super fan Cameron Hughes. Cameron’s rambunctious enthusiasm kicked the Games into high gear as he led the fans in cheers to get them shouting their support for the more than 40,000 athletes registered in the Special Olympics across Canada.
Sobeys’ volunteers could also be found at Sobeys Square throughout the Games giving out nutritious snacks to athletes, volunteers, and spectators. The interactive area set the stage for life-size Jenga and Connect Four battles, live music, and a live stream of the Games for athletes and fans to enjoy.
Sobeys’ participation in the Games was part of its national partnership with Special Olympics Canada. Since 2016, Sobeys Inc. has contributed more than $1.4 million in support of nutrition education, food access, and local community programming through Special Olympics. Its co-sponsorship of the Games included financial support and in-kind contributions totalling more than a quarter of a million dollars to help make better food possible for athletes on and off the field.
One of those athletes is 25-year-old Erin Magee from Bedford, Nova Scotia. Erin has been a Special Olympics athlete for the past 14 years and participates in soccer, swimming, and track and field.
Erin kicked off the Summer Games by giving an inspiring speech to Sobeys’ employees en route to Antigonish and lighting the Flame of Hope at the opening ceremonies. She has worked at Sobeys for seven years and was ecstatic when she heard about Sobeys’ partnership with Special Olympics Canada.
“Working at Sobeys has been incredible because the people I work with listen to me go on and on about my passion for the Special Olympics on a daily basis,” said Erin. “I am so grateful to my Sobeys family for their tremendous support of the National Games.”
Through her time working at Sobeys, Erin has learned the importance of nutrition when it comes to being an athlete. Food and sport go hand-in-hand, but many Canadian athletes don’t have access to the food education they need to fuel their performance.
Data retrieved from Special Olympics International shows many Canadians with intellectual disabilities have limited knowledge of proper health practices, including healthy eating. This can lead to obesity, which can cause a number of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
As part of its partnership with Special Olympics Canada, Sobeys is helping change that by providing knowledge about healthy eating to Special Olympics athletes through its first of its kind Better Food Nutrition Sessions. Leading up to the Games, Sobeys brought together dieticians, athletes, volunteers, and caregivers to deliver these sessions. More than 100 Sobeys office employees showed their passion for better food by volunteering their time to lead these sessions that teach Special Olympics athletes how to incorporate easy and nutritious recipes into their everyday lives.
With more than 1,500 stores nationwide, Sobeys is a part of many communities across Canada, so its sponsorship of the Summer Games is one way to show its support of those communities, its customers, and the Special Olympics Canada athletes from coast-to-coast.
“We were thrilled to be a part of this year’s Special Olympics. We are continuously inspired by the hard work and dedication of Special Olympics athletes,” said Michael Medline, president and CEO, Sobeys Inc.
Sobeys’ relationship with the athletes, families, and sea of fans is extraordinary. Its unapologetic passion and fandom for the Special Olympics was evident throughout the events—from the cheer bus spotted in Halifax, its support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Stellarton and police caravan to Antigonish, and its weeklong engagement onsite at St. Francis Xavier University—Sobeys is a big fan.
To learn more about Better Food Nutrition Sessions and Sobeys partnership with Special Olympics Canada, go to www.sobeys.com/en/promotion/teamsobeys and follow @SobeysSpecialOlympics on Instagram.