Kim McDonald-Wilkes

I am writing to nominate the Special Olympics NL Exploits Hurricanes Competitive Curling Team. This curling team has been together only a short 4 years and during that time that have accomplished so much! At the 2019 Special Olympics NL Winter Games they won Gold in the Competitive division. Securing their place on the Provincial Team heading to the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ontario on Feb 23rd, 2020. In 2018 they received Gold in the Competitive division at the Special Olympics NL Provincial Championships and again in 2017, a Gold medal at the same competition.

In 2019 the clubs home town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador recognized this teams accomplishments and awarded them the 2018 Team of the Year for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor at the Town’s annual Civic Awards. In 2019 Special Olympics NL awarded them with Team of the Year for the Province and then again in 2019 Special Olympics Canada awarded them Team of the Year for the entire country!!

This team has a diverse array of athletes, with both female and male competitors with ages ranging from 19 up to 63 years of age. The team is more like a family. Their dedication to not just the sport of Curling but to the Special Olympics movement is amazing. Team member Joshua Gardner was also recipient of Male Athlete of the year for Special Olympics NL and has given many speeches about Special Olympics and the impact it has had on him. Joshua is also involved at his local Curling Club, Exploits Regional Curling Club and enjoys assisting with making and maintaining the ice. Team member Margaret MacNeil just recently took part in Athlete Leadership Training and co-emceed’s the 2019 Special Olympics NL Provincial Winter Games. Team members Kim O’Neill and Gary Wicks being the two most seasoned athletes on the team have been in Special Olympics for over 20 years. Tony Kyritsis will be making his 6th appearance on the National Stage, previously he competed at National Games in Snow Shoeing.

This team has grown tremendously on and off the ice over the past 4 years. They have learned to both win and loss with grace. They encourage other athletes in their respective sport to do their best and work hard to accomplish goals. Within the community of Grand Falls-Windsor each team member is well known and respected. They are each involved in a number of activities outside of Special Olympics.

One team member is currently enrolled at the College of the North Atlantic working on a diploma in Community Studies. Two other teammates hold down full time jobs and the remaining two teammates are enjoying the retired life but still remain active and volunteer in the community whenever the chance is given.