HUNTSVILLE - The legacy of the 2012 Ontario Parasport Winter Championships is more than just money, according to organizers.
JOB WELL DONE:.
Debbie Kirwin (seated), the co-chair of the 2012 Ontario ParaSport Winter Games, accepts a plaque from Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, in appreciation of the town hosting the championships. Also assisting with the presentation are Erin Hamilton, director, Sport Alliance Ontario (left) and Holly Abraham, chair, Sport Alliance Ontario. The presentation was made Thursday night at the Ontario Sport Awards, held at Ontario Place in Toronto.
Games general manager Myke Malone and co-chair Debbie Kirwin announced Friday that the three-day championships in late February garnered around $2,000 for a legacy fund.
These funds are the profits from the games and typically are used in the host community to financially support sports and recreational programs for various groups.
The parasport games were hampered financially when the Trillium Foundation rejected a grant request of $50,000, which would have been used primarily for transportation costs associated with the championships. The organizing committee was able to cut costs to allow the games to come in under budget and end up with the small legacy fund.
“We thought the budget would land on the head of a pin and it basically did,” said Malone. “We made sure that we made cuts that wouldn’t impact the athletes’ experiences. We cut out all the “nice-to-dos” and focused on the “need-to-dos”.”
Kirwin said the championships received a lot of financial support from the community, including from the sale of the parasport wristbands, which brought in around $8,300. Malone said organizers had only expected the wristbands to generate a few thousand dollars at best.
“Donations at the door were also more than we expected,” Malone said.
While the $2,000 figure may not seem like a lot, Malone said that there are plans to possibly increase that figure within the next year.
The town will be hosting the 2013 Ontario Senior Winter Games during the last week of February. More than 1,000 people are expected to come to town for this competition. Malone, who is also the general manager of that event, said that the financial impact of the championships would be coupled with the parasport legacy.
“We paired these two games with a combined budget. When we closed off our books for the parasport games we had the $2,000. We are going to leave that alone. We expect the 55-plus games to have a larger budget and we already have the infrastructure in place from the parasport games. So we will divide the overall legacy between the two games and pro-rate it to be around 75 per cent from the 55-plus games and 25 per cent from the parasport games, with a minimum of $2,000 for parasport-related projects in the community.”
The 75 per cent share would be spent on community projects for senior-related activities, while the remaining 25 per cent would go to funding activities related to parasport-styled recreational programs.
Kirwin said that beside the monetary implications, the other legacy of the 2012 Ontario Parasport Winter Championships is more spiritual that financial.
“In 2006, when we first hosted the games, the town had never experienced that many people with disabilities or that many people with wheelchairs. So the games brought awareness to barriers. This time people were looking more at the athletes’ abilities and the playing of the sport. So we took the ‘dis’ out of disability. For me that is huge.”
“We actually had an opportunity to take athletes into schools and taught them how to play wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey and had presentation by paralympians,” added Malone.
Work on the Ontario senior competition has already begun, according to both Malone and Kirwin. The games are scheduled to take place from Feb. 26 to 28. Athletes will compete in 10 sports, including alpine skiing, badminton, bowling, curling, duplicate bridge, hockey, Nordic skiing, skating, table tennis and volleyball.