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For Special Olympian Travis Perry, the sky's the limit when it comes to competition.
His career highlights include, most recently, a gold medal in floor hockey at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. He has also participated in world games, several other national events and many local and regional competitions, competing in softball, floor hockey, powerlifting, curling, swimming and bowling.
“I love every sport. I love being a good athlete," said Perry, adding he has no plans to retire from the sports scene anytime soon.
“I’m gonna keep on playing, till I drop. That’d be great.”
Perry, 32, has been competing with Special Olympics P.E.I. for 23 years. His love of sports began as a youngster at Miscouche Consolidated in 1998 when he went bowling.
“Just for something to do,” said dad, Garth Perry. “He tried it and really liked it for quite a while.”
“But then he wanted something more active,” said his mom, Linda Perry. “There was too much sitting around waiting for your turn.”
So Travis tried floor hockey and was hooked.
Since then, floor hockey had been a big part of his life. Even though he sometimes competes in other sports, he always plays on the floor hockey team.
When he’s not training, Travis works with Community Connections Inc., delivering electric bills around Summerside. He walks his route year-round. In the winter, he helps with snow removal and in the summer he cuts grass.
“He likes being out and doing things,” said Linda.
He takes a similar can-do approach to Special Olympics.
In 2011, Travis went to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, to compete in softball.
“We came home with a bronze medal.”
The July weather was hot and the team spent a lot of time in the hotel pool, he remembers.
The Olympians were also treated to a meet-and-greet with retired NHL hockey player Darryl Sittler, another with Whoopi Goldberg (“From Hollywood Squares,” said Travis.), and a concert with Elton John.
In 2015, just as he was about to try out for Canada Games, Travis’ sports schedule was interrupted by an injury.
“In 2015 we had really big snowbanks,” said Linda. “It was Friday the 13th in February, he was on a snowbank and fell off. It was huge.”
His ankle took the brunt of the damage.
“I was on crutches for a few weeks. Mom and Dad looked after me. It was good to have my parents here with me, it always makes me feel better,” he said.
He was missed at the 2015 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Moncton, N.B., but his teammates on the floor hockey team wore his number on their helmets and brought him back a medal.
This past February, Travis was one of five Summerside floor hockey players who got to represent P.E.I. at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. Team P.E.I. took home 25 medals in six different sports. Island athletes also achieved 17 personal best performances.
Travis plays defence and was excited to compete against teams from other provinces.
“I made a lot of friends there,” he said.
He also enjoyed the buffet.
“Make your own tacos, it was pretty nice,” said Travis. “And winning that gold medal.”
Garth couldn’t make it to the games, but he was paying attention from back home.
“They had two overtime games to get them there,” said Garth. “I wished I had’ve been there. Both 4-3 games in overtime."
Travis is grateful for his teammates’ efforts and thanked fellow Summerside teammate Nathan Irwin for scoring the winning goal.
“I feel proud to be a winner,” said Travis.
Garth Perry, whose son, Travis, is involved in Special Olympics, as been a floor-hockey dad and volunteer coach with the organization since 1998.
When his son’s first floor hockey coach retired, Garth stepped up until the current coach, Barry Murray, arrived.
While he is still an assistant coach, Garth is ready to retire from his responsibilities and let someone with new ideas join the team. He highly recommends the organization.
“It is a superior experience to coach the Special Olympics. You have such a good time. You will have your bad days, but for the most part, the camaraderie they have, and the love they have for each other and the coaches, it’s just an exhilarating experience. They’re always happy to see you.”
For anyone interested in helping out, Special Olympics is planning a coaching course in May.
What: NCCP Multi-Sport Super Weekend.
When: May 15-17.
Registration: Found on the NCCP Locker.
Event Location: 40 Enman Cres., Charlottetown
For information: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org at Sport P.E.I.
Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com.