Fundraising for a Special (Olympics) Cause

Some time around the middle of August, North Shore Special Olympians will carry the Special Olympics torch through the Takapuna CBD, as it makes its way from the Bay of Islands to New Zealand’s largest event for athletes with intellectual disabilities, the Special Olympics National Summer Games 2017 in Wellington in late November.

This is the chance for some of the 48-strong team of North Shore Special Olympians and its support crew to strut their stuff in front of a home crowd before taking on some of the 1300 athletes selected from across Special Olympics New Zealand’s 44 clubs.

Right now, the focus is on training – and on fundraising. “Each person going to the games has a registration fee of up to $770,” says Carolyn Pape, chairperson of North Harbour Special Olympics. “We have been running raffles at our Ribbon Day tournaments, sausage sizzles at Bunnings, and we also have a night at the races next month with auctions. There are charitable trusts that we can apply to for funding assistance and we have been granted $26,000 so far. In August, we take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run when it passes through our area and we will run the streets of Takapuna and shake our collection buckets.”

Attending the National Special Olympics competition is a prerequisite for competing at the next World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. “North Harbour has a large membership,” says Carolyn, “and last time we had three athletes selected for World Games.  Registration for World Games is around $13,000 so a lot of fundraising has to be done for that!”

While others get into the fundraising, the focus for the athletes is on preparation for competition in Wellington. The North Harbour athletes will compete in athletics, basketball, football, golf, equestrian, swimming and tenpin bowling.

Each sport has weekly training at venues all over the North Shore: athletics at Millennium Institute, basketball at the Breakers’ rooms in Mairangi Bay, football has a new partnership with Albany United Football Club which allows the team to train on the Albany United grounds.  The swimming team trains all year at the Takapuna Pool, golf is coached at iGolf Albany and tenpin at Xtreme in Wairau, while the sole equestrian representative has private lessons and goes to Equestrian 4 Everyone in Whangaparaoa. 

“The benefits to the athletes attending the National games is not just in the sporting competition,” adds Caroline. “Athletes form lifelong friendships and for many it has been a great confidence boost to be able to travel and compete. 

“As at every major Special Olympics event, Special Olympics New Zealand will also run a Healthy Athletes Programme during the Games delivered by more than 70 volunteer clinicians. Athletes are offered the opportunity to take part in screenings focused on hearing, eye sight, dental care, podiatry, and health promotion.

“We know that people with intellectual disabilities typically have poorer health outcomes, and may have underlying health issues that go undiagnosed. The Healthy Athletes screenings can help to identify these issues, and allow our athletes to get the right treatment.”


By Christine Young

Channel Magazine: Issue 79 August 2017, accessed online HERE.