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Terrace hosts first Special Olympics basketball tournament in 5 years

Instead of the typical ribbons, Benson Optical donated sunglasses to every participating athlete
Terrace hosted its first Special Olympics BC basketball tournament in five years on April 15, 2023, with athletes participating from Prince George, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, Smithers, and Terrace. (Photo courtesy of Alex Blum-Walker)

On Saturday (April 15), Terrace welcomed athletes from Prince George, Quesnel, Smithers and Prince Rupert for a Special Olympics BC basketball tournament.

The event, which took place at Suwilaawks Community School, marked the first time in five years that a Special Olympics basketball tournament was held in Terrace.

The competition was organized last minute by a small group of dedicated volunteers, led by Special Olympics BC - Terrace local coordinator Alex Blum-Walker. The tournament saw 28 athletes from out of town participate in a “fun day of competition,” as Blum-Walker described it.

Rather than competing divisions as usual, where athletes face opponents with similar abilities and skill levels, the event had a unique format. Each athlete played against every other competitor, regardless of their abilities or skills. The tournament was held during an off-year, meaning it did not count toward regional qualifiers, provincial, national, or world competitions.

READ MORE: Terrace curling team attends the Special Olympics

According to Blum-Walker, who has been working with Special Olympics BC for around seven years, athletes in the north struggle to find the same level of competition as those in the Lower Mainland, where events are held more frequently. This tournament provided a valuable opportunity for athletes to compete and socialize with their peers.

For the athletes, the Special Olympics is more than just about winning.

Blum-Walker emphasized the importance of the opportunities and sense of community these events provide. Many athletes rely on caregivers or live in assisted living accommodations, making the routine and social aspects of the Special Olympics particularly valuable.

As the organization relies solely on volunteers, Blum-Walker encouraged others to get involved.

“Come to a practice, I can promise you, you’ll love it,” he said, noting that the past couple of years have led people to reevaluate their time and priorities.

Special Olympics has been a fixture in British Columbia for 30 years, and in 2025, the provincial summer Special Olympics will be held in Prince George. With continued support from volunteers and local businesses, athletes in the region can look forward to more opportunities to compete and build community.

Local businesses supported the event, including Safeway, Save-On-Foods, Wild Bike, Fiori Design, Blue Barn Pet & Hobby Farm, Unbound Gear & Apparel, and Benson Optical.

With the usual ribbons not arriving in time, Benson Optical gifted each athlete a pair of sunglasses instead.

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