McMaster motionball brings awareness and support to Special Olympics
Students and athletes participate in Marathon of Sport event to raise money for the Special Olympics programs
A non-profit organization, motionball was founded in 2002 by brothers Paul, Mark and Sean Etherington in support of the Special Olympics movement. Through both social and sporting events, motionball helps raise funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation and their goal of enhancing the well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport.
Headed by event directors Emily Van Berkel and Gurleen Sandhu, the Marathon of Sport gave members within the McMaster University community an opportunity to engage with Special Olympic athletes. The day marked the sixth time that McMaster has been able to host a Marathon of Sport and the first time the event has ran in-person since the start of the pandemic.
“Both of us had only ever attended or been a part of the online events these past three years. . . I’ve never been to any in-person [Marathons of Sport] before the one we had [on March 18], so that was really exciting to finally have it back in-person,” said Sandhu.
Throughout the event, teams were able to take part in a variety of games and activities, including soccer, bocce ball, bench ball and seated balloon volleyball. Competing in these sports allowed for a fun and collaborative athletic experience for teams to promote fundraising and awareness for Special Olympic athletes and organizations.
“I was talking with some parents at our event and they were just saying how incredible it is that their children or their grandchildren have the space to come and participate with university students. . . It’s like a soul-filling, energy-giving day and it’s awesome,” explained Van Berkel.
Direct donations were made to support athletes through their motionball sponsorship page for participating universities and teams on the Marathon of Sport leaderboard. Along with their other team members, Van Berkel and Sandhu have helped to raise $3753 for their Executive Committee motionball team at McMaster and over $8000 at the event overall.
Of the donations raised for each Marathon of Sport hosted at participating universities and local chapters, motionball allocates 70 per cent of the funds to Special Olympics Ontario and programs for local community athletes.
A quarter of the donations are sent directly to the Special Olympics Canada Foundation while 5 per cent is directed towards the #NoGoodWay campaign to eliminate the use of the “r-word” in everyday conversation.
“When you actually go to the event in-person, you meet all the athletes. You get a better sense of what you’re really donating to, where your money is going, the people that it’s really affecting. . . A lot of people end up donating after the event is over as well,” said Sandhu.
For those who were unable to take part in the event, motionball Hamilton will be hosting a Marathon of Sport on Jun. 24, 2023 at Hillfield Strathallan College. Participants can register as either a Corporate Team with their participating organization’s employees or a Standard Team and will be partnered with one to two Special Olympic athletes on the day of the event.
With chapters across 18 Canadian cities and 35 university campuses, motionball provides multiple opportunities for interested individuals to become involved as organizing committee members or volunteers at their events.