The Power of Sport shines as Waterloo Region hosts the Special Olympics Ontario Spring Games 

Home | Sport News | The Power of Sport shines as Waterloo Region hosts the Special Olympics Ontario Spring Games 
May 2024

As the days pass and the Special Olympics Ontario Spring Games in Waterloo Region draw near, Cambridge athlete Cooper Moore is entering the final stages of his preparation as a swimmer. 

No stranger to success, Moore understands the pressures that come along with competing in the games, not only as he tries to stand atop the podium, but as an ambassador for Special Olympians everywhere. 

Between training three times a week in the pool, he can be found rallying people in the community to get involved. 

“I talk a lot about the games and ask people if they’re volunteering, I want people to get involved,” Moore said. 

“I want people to come, watch and cheer on all the Special Olympics athletes. If they come and watch, we can inspire them to do anything.” 

Special Olympian Cooper Moore wearing his medals from past competitions as he smiles for the camera
Cooper Moore displays medals he has won at previous competitions. (Photo: Matt Betts/CambridgeToday)

Aside from the skill on display, the games provide the community with a rare opportunity to celebrate successes and feel the unique power sports can provide. 

Moore sees himself as a leader in the effort to spread that message. A responsibility that comes with the obligation to raise awareness and educate. 

“Every Special Olympics athlete is excited and proud to be participating,” he said. “We live with an intellectual disability, and we may need extra time to learn or need different tools, but we can achieve our goals. We’re important members of the community and I want people to come see what we can do.” 

It’s a similar message Cherri Greeno shares as she recruits volunteers for the event. 

Greeno, the Director of Corporate Affairs for the Waterloo Regional Police Service, doubles as the marketing communications lead for the games. 

With roughly 500 volunteers needed to run an event of this size, her work is made easier by sharing the inspirational stories of the athletes. 

“The Waterloo Regional Police are the host but it’s a community event,” Greeno said. 

“There’s no better feeling than being a part of something like this and to make these memories come true. When you meet the athletes and see their abilities, it really impacts you.” 

This year has added significance given the original 2020 games were shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dubbed as the 2020 games happening in 2024, Greeno said the organizing committee is eager to show the community all the hard work that has gone into making them a reality. 

“I think it’s extra special,” Greeno said. 

“We’ve had this committee set up for four years and we were devastated when we found out it was cancelled. We want to make it the best games ever. Hosting something like this has so much meaning and we’re known as being a caring and kind community.” 

Allister Scorgie, Director of Sport Hosting for Explore Waterloo Region, sees the games as a way to put the athletes on the centre stage and give them the recognition they deserve. 

As an equal opportunity organization, it’s a critical aspect of promoting a love of sports across the region. 

“The reality for sport in Canada is that all things aren’t equal, even though they should be,” Scorgie said. 

“Olympic athletes, Paralympic athletes, Special Olympics athletes all deserve opportunities to train, compete and be recognized for their athletic successes. That extends to gender equity in sport and ensuring that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate from a local and minor sport level all the way up to high-performance.” 

Scorgie hopes the community takes the time to relish hosting a multi-sport event taking place across various cities and townships. 

It’s not something that comes around every day and shouldn’t be taken for granted, he believes. 

“These events are incredibly fun, they have a great atmosphere as athletes are competing across multiple sports and it’s really a community-hosting experience,” he said. “It takes a village for this type of event to be organized and executed.” 

When the games conclude and the medals are handed out, Cooper Moore is hoping a simple message is conveyed. 

“I hope the crowd will leave feeling happy and people will be interested in volunteering,” he said. “I hope they leave thinking ‘wow that was amazing.’” 

The Ontario Special Olympics Spring Games get underway on May 23 and conclude May 26. A complete schedule of events can be found on the Games website.

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