Special Olympics Yukon is dedicated to enriching the lives of Yukoners with an intellectual disability through sport.
As a registered Yukon society, we have been working with children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability for over 30 years. Within this time, it has grown from a small group of cross country skiers to become a year-round movement offering over 90 Yukoners the opportunity to train and compete in the sports they love.
In 1978, Special Olympics Yukon (SOY) ran programs in conjunction with special education classes in Whitehorse. At that time, SOY was not officially a society. At the 1980 Special Olympics Canada National Conference, it was decided that Yukon and Quebec would become the newest Canadian chapters in the Special Olympics family.
In July 1981, SOY (OR Yukon Special Olympics as it was known back then), became a Yukon society and one month later received charitable status in the eyes of the federal government. At that time, it shared staffing and other resources with the Yukon Association for Community Living and Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon.
In 1988, the growth and expansion of SOY led to a decision that it would operate independently and act a separate entity. From that point forward, Special Olympics in Ireland hired its own staff, raised its own money and expanded its programming into the future. On the field of play, SOY regularly sent teams to competitions in Alaska and to the Special Olympics Canada Summer and Winter Games. SOY athletes such as Tyler Repka were becoming locally recognized for their accomplishments at out-of-territory competitions.
In 1991, SOY moved into the new Sport Yukon building as a charter tenant. This was significant as it was now doing business amongst Yukon’s other Sport Governing bodies. The Executive Director of the day was the sole employee. By now, Tyler Repka had been a member of two Canadian teams that participated at the Special Olympics World Games.
1993 saw Katherine Hall become Yukon’s first Special Olympics Athlete to be a member of Canadian Winter World Games team, having been part of the Figure Skating delegation. In 1997, Katherine Hall was joined by her brother Daniel on the Canadian Cross Country Ski Team that competed at the World Winter Games held in Toronto/Collingwood, the only time the World Games were held on Canadian Soil.
In 1998, SOY boasted over 35 athletes with an intellectual disability. The sport programs offered to the athletes were Swimming, Athletics, 5 Pin Bowling, Basketball, Floor Hockey, Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing.
In 2001, SOY was looking to offer more Yukoners with an intellectual disability the opportunity to play sports. That said, 6 schools joined the new School Based Program in which the athletes trained and competed against each other in Soccer, Athletics, Swimming and 5 Pin Bowling. This innovative initiative saw Special Olympics Yukon athlete registration exceed 65 athletes. This was also the year that SOY renewed its participation at Special Olympics BC Provincial Games and continues today to use this competition as its qualifier for the following year’s National Games.
In 2006, A larger commitment to offer more SOY athletes the opportunity to compete at National Games was becoming a reality as 18 Yukon athletes traveled to Brandon, MB for the Summer Games. This was a much larger team than as recently as 2000 where Team Yukon had 2 representatives in Cross Country Skiing.
Fall 2007 saw SOY hire its first ever Program Director, whose responsibilities consisted of all sport and program tasks and activities,. This allowed the Executive Director to focus on the leadership, administration, marketing and fundraising for SOY.
With the release of the Special Olympics Canada Long Term Athlete Development Plan, Yukon joined its provincial and territorial counterparts in 2008 by expanding its program menu to offer specifically designed sessions for young Yukoners aged between 4-7 years old. 2008 also saw the birth of the annual Development Games. These Games, based on a model created by Special Olympics Saskatchewan, provided all SOY athletes to participate in a multitude of sport clinics and friendly competitions within a traditional Games setting.
In 2010, having outgrown its one room office at Sport Yukon, SOY moved into its first ever independent office space which included 2 offices as well as meeting and storage space. This was necessary as SOY had grown to approx. 90 athletes and 70 sport volunteers.
The 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games saw the largest Yukon team ever to participate at the National Winter Championship. 4 Curlers, 2 Cross Country Skiers and a Figure Skater competed against Canada’s best in St. Albert, AB. As a result of this competition, Michael Sumner become the youngest Yukoner ever to qualify for Canada’s team that went to South Korea for the World Winter Games in 2013. Michael joined Tyler Repka (1987, 1991), Katherine Hall (1993, 1997), Daniel Hall (1997, 2001), Garry Chaplin (2005) and Owen Munroe (2009) as the sole Yukoners to have played at World Games.
Special Olympics Yukon’s participation at the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games held in Vancouver will go down in history as one of the most memorable Team Yukon showings ever. SOY sent athletes in 6 sports and saw over 20 team and personal best results. In addition, SOY athletes brought home a record 14 medals, including the first ever medal (Silver) won by a Yukon 5 Pin Bowling team at a national championship (generic sport included), the first ever Gold medal won by a Yukon Soccer team (generic sport included) at a national championship and the first ever medal won by a Special Olympics Yukon Bocce Team (Bronze). Also, Darby McIntyre was so impressive on the Athletics track that he was selected to be a member of Team Canada that competed at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Los Angeles, California. Darby came home with a Gold medal in the 5,000m and a Bronze medal in the 1,500m.
- Special Olympics Yukon athlete and Board member Christopher Lee
Our Staff and Board of Directors share the common goal of improving the lives of those involved with Special Olympics Yukon. By overseeing the day to day function, along with the overall future, of the organization, we are a group dedicated to making the lives of others better through sport.
President – Mike Pare
Secretary – Amica Sturdy
Treasurer – James R. Tucker
Athlete Representative – Mike Sumner
Territorial Programs Committee chair (TPC) - Grant MacDonald
Directors – Shirley Chua, Richard Johnson and Cathryn Nyland
Chief Executive Officer
Serge Michaud email@example.com
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Sean Ridder email@example.com