Athletes support special fundraiser

Varsity athletes raise over $8000 for Special Olympics at motionball fundraiser

Queen’s motionball brought over 120 varsity athletes to the PEC.
Queen’s motionball brought over 120 varsity athletes to the PEC.
Sara Fischer (left) and Chris Szymus (right) are the co-chairs of Queen’s motionball.
Sara Fischer (left) and Chris Szymus (right) are the co-chairs of Queen’s motionball.

As Chris Szymus watched a pick-up basketball game between varsity athletes, students and Special Olympians in the PEC last weekend, he couldn’t help but crack a smile. 

The game was a part of the third annual Varsity Marathon of Sport, a day-long sporting event hosted by the Queen’s chapter of motionball Canada — a non-for-profit organization that helps build awareness and raise money for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. At the end of the day, the event helped raise over $8,000. 

For Szymus, co-chair of Queen’s motionball, the event hits home. His older brother Greg — who has autism — has been a Special Olympian for over 15 years. For as long as Chris could remember, he went to his brother’s games and practices.

Whether they’re going to watch the local Mississauga Steelheads, going on walks or at a Special Olympics event, Chris said his big brother has had a lasting impact on him.

“He has taught me to really take a chance to learn and get to know that, deep down, anyone is capable of doing the same thing. They just have different ways of going about it,” he said.

Throughout the day, the 14 teams played floor hockey, soccer-baseball, basketball and soccer — all sports the Szymus brothers played together growing up. When Chris sees these athletes playing and having fun, it reminds him of playing catch in the backyard with his brother.

“I get a feeling that there is so much more to life,” he said. “You don’t know what happiness is until you see the expression on their faces, and how something so simple as sport can be so meaningful to someone.”

While there might only be two Special Olympians per team, Szymus said they were the stars of the day.

“We want people to play equal, but at the end of the day our Special Olympic athletes are celebrities.”

 

The Varsity Marathon isn’t the only way students have gotten involved this year.

In January, the student-run organization was involved along with motionball’s national campaign: Yellowcard Day. The campaign aims to end the use of  offensive language against people with intellecutal disabilities in everyday life.

For motionball co-chair Sara Fischer, the growing popularity of the Varsity Marathon shows that young people do care.

“Many people our age have grown up loving sport, participating in sport, and I think that there is a common belief that everyone should have the right to participate,” Fischer said.

A large portion of support Queen’s motionball has received is from the varsity athletes.

After motionball pitched them the idea of coming to the event, more than 12 teams were interested in helping out.

“Getting them involved was very easy as they seem to always be looking for ways to give back,” Fischer said.

For second-year rower Tory Pearson, participating in the Varsity Marathon of Sport reminded her of what makes sport so great.

“I think that it exemplifies the love of sports in general,” Pearson said. “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you want to have fun and better yourself that’s really important.”

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