Edwin was introduced to Special Olympics Thunder Bay by his close friend and fellow ambassador Kyler Lecompte. Edwin his since become a multi-sport athlete who excels at soccer, basketball, curling and ten-pin bowling.
Special Olympics has brought positive changes to Edwin’s life.
“I like Special Olympics because I get to interact with my friends and I’ve gained a lot because before that I spent a lot of time playing video games and watching TV. I get out a lot more now!”
After completing high school Edwin studied in the Ontario Public Service program at Confederation College and hopes to eventually find employment in his field.
Edwin is sure to be a tremendous asset to the Athlete Ambassador program for the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay.
Like his twin brother Robert, Shawn Whitehurst is an accomplished all-round athlete, who has competed at Provincial Games in showshoeing, track and filed, swimming and soccer. How is Shawn different from his brother? “He’s a lot faster than me in swimming,” he relates. “But I beat him in snowshoeing!”
When asked who he looks up to the most, Shawn replirs, “My brother, my team, and all the athletes!”
Shawn’s favorite part of Special Olympics is getting to know new people and welcoming them to the sport. His goal as an Athlete Ambassador is to help the city host a successful National Winter Games. Shawn’s cheerful, outgoing personality will suit him perfectly to this role.
When he’s not training or competing in his various sports, Shawn works as a tire technician at Halfway Motors Nissan.
Soft-spoken Robert Whitehurst has truly made his mark since joining Special Olympics with his brother Shawn a decade ago. A highly versatile athlete, he has competed at Provincial Games in swimming, track and field and snowshoeing and has amassed an impressive collection of medals along the way.
Robert is enthusiastic about the upcoming Special Olympics Canada 2020 Winter Games in Thunder Bay and his role as an Athlete Ambassador. “I’m looking forward to supporting all the athletes and everyone who will be coming to Thunder Bay,” he says.
Robert has a busy life outside of Special Olympics. He is employed at Kal Tire, where he works in shipping and receiving and helps manage inventory.
Besides performing as an Athlete Ambassador, Robert’s goals for the future are straightforward. “I want to beat Shawn in snowshoeing and make it to National Games!”
Megan Peters is a sports fan. When she’s not playing a sport with her friends or working at Wequedong Lodge, she loves watching hockey, soccer or basketball on television.
Megan took up basketball in high school, switching to Special Olympics four years ago. She doesn’t mind competing on the same court with often much taller boys. “I’ve learned to manage,” she says with a grin, “I get along with them.”
She feels Thunder Bay was a good choice to host the Special Olympics Canada 2020 Winter Games. “I think it will be really fun for everybody. Other athletes will come and learn all about our city.”
Megan’s coaches are her sports heroes. ”I really look up to my coaches,” she says. ”They make us work hard and make sure we all get along. They are great role models for us.”
Thomas is a veteran athlete who joined Special Olympics Thunder Bay as a young boy. Nowadays, he competes in swimming, floor hockey, bowling and snowshoeing. The highlight of Thomas’ career came in 2012, when he represented Ontario as a snowshoe competitor at the National Winter Games.
When not competing or attending sporting events in the community, Thomas works as a Walmart greeter, which perfectly suits his friendly, outgoing personality.
Thomas truly made his mark when he delivered a stirring speech on behalf of his fellow athletes before a packed Thunder Bay Community Auditorium at the closing ceremonies of the 2011 Special Olympics Provincial Winter Games. Thomas’ speaking skills will be a great asset for the Athlete Ambassador program.
“Special Olympics changes your life,’ says Thomas. ”It allows you to play a sport, make new friends and try new things.”
Like most Special Olympic athletes, Duncan really enjoys meeting new people through his sport. He recommends Special Olympics to others because “it makes you more active, gives you more things to do and helps you make more friends.”
Duncan joined Special Olympics about 15 years ago, when he was still in grade school. He participates in swimming, baseball and floor hockey. The highlight of his athletic career so far was a trip to Provincial Games in Guelph, where he competed as a swimmer.
When not competing himself, Duncan is a loyal fan of local sports teams, especially Lakehead Thunderwolves hockey and Bordercats baseball.
His goal is “to qualify for National Games in one of my sports.”
Duncan is employed in the maintenance department with GRIDLINK utility infrastructure contractor.
Karli is a busy young lady. Besides holding a multi-faceted job as Facilities Assistant at the Canada Games Complex, she practices three times a week with the Thunder Bay Figure Skating Club and competes for Special Olympics Thunder Bay. In 2017 she won a gold medal at the provincial qualifier in Waterloo.
Karli began skating at the age of four. She took a hiatus at 16, but jumped at the chance to get back on the blades and represent Special Olympics Thunder Bay.
“ I like being around other skaters and going away to compete. I just love skating. It’s in my blood.”
Her goal is to keep practicing and working on her jumps. “I think you can do whatever you want if you put your heart into it,” she says.
She feels the 2020 National Winter Games offer a great opportunity for athletes to shine. “If everybody does their best and has fun, they’ll make Thunder Bay proud.”
Kyler joined Special Olympics Thunder Bay at the age of 14 on a friend’s recommendation. Since then, he’s become skilled at bowling, floor hockey, soccer, softball, basketball and curling. Now he’s accepted a new challenge as an Athlete Ambassador for the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.
“Special Olympics has changed me a lot over the years,” he relates. ”It’s given me a lot more confidence.”
His favorite highlight? ”Going away on buses and planes to competitions.”
After graduating from high school, Kyler enrolled in the CICE program with a 3.75 first year at Confederation College. His studies included Health, Machinery, Modern History, Latin American History and Recreation Therapy. Through the college, he also volunteers at a Habitat for Humanity build site.
Kyler is an avid outdoorsman who loves boating, cycling, camping and hiking.
Yvette Degagne is among Special Olympics Thunder Bay’s most decorated athletes. Specializing in track and field for over twenty years, Yvette has competed in Provincial Games in Windsor, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Peel, and National Games in London and Antigonish N.S., bringing home medals every time.
Yvette has worked at Thunder Bay International Airport for 17 years. In her spare time she loves movies and visits iCAN! Social Network, where she enjoys inclusive activities and fellowship.
What does Yvette like most about Special Olympics? “I love meeting people, competing, going away to different places … all of it!”
Yvette’s outgoing personality and positive outlook make her a perfect fit for the Athlete Ambassador program.
If fishing were a Special Olympics sport, Ian Bryan might be world champion. He’s one of the most expert outdoorsmen you will ever meet. In fact, he’d love to host his own fishing show someday.
Ian joined Special Olympics in high school. “I heard about it from my Mom,” he recalls. “It became a subject of conversation in the Community Living class. A few of us met with coach Gary Renner and got involved from there.”
Ian excelled at basketball before a broken foot sidelined that career. Today he plays softball, bowls and stars as a floor hockey goaltender.
When asked if he looks up to someone special in his life, Ian replies, “My brother Sean for sure! And close friends like Joey Marostica.”
Special Olympics helped Ian develop a great philosophy on life. “If you want other people to be better, help them out. Treat everyone with respect and honesty.”
Anyone who visits Fort William Historical Park will recognize Joey Marostica. There he transforms into Joseph, the farmhand, a role he performs with consummate skill. “I feed and water the animals,” he explains. “ I tell people about the history of the farm and re-enact some battles.”
Joey has been competing with Special Olympics Thunder Bay for seven years, and is an integral part of the floor hockey and basketball teams.
“I’ve met a lot of people at Special Olympics and they’ve become close friends. It also keeps me active. I used to have a sore back, but I don’t have it anymore. Plus we get to go on amazing trips!”
Joey sees Athlete Ambassadors as a new adventure and can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.
“Whatever you guys need, I’ll be there!”
Berta and her twin sister Gabrielle played girls’ softball in a city league, but decided to try Special Olympics softball on their parents’ recommendation. Since then, Berta has joined snowshoeing, athletics and floor hockey. The highlight of Berta’s Special Olympics career has been a trip to the 2016 National Winter Games in Corner Brook NL, where she won gold and silver medals in snowshoeing.
Beyond sports, Roberta gives back to her community. She has volunteered with senior citizens at St. Joseph’s Heritage for the past six years and recently began a part time job at Masala Grill.
When asked if she’d recommend Special Olympics to others, Berta answers unequivocally, “I’d say go for it! It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and be active.”
Berta is thrilled to have National Winter Games in her hometown. “People will see who we are as a city and maybe come back some day. Also, I might be in them!”
Five-pin bowler Nicole came within an eyelash of fulfilling her dream at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Prince Edward Island. She fell just 50 pins short of qualifying for World Games. Far from being discouraged, however, Nicole is pursuing her goal with even more energy.
Nicole joined Special Olympics softball while growing up in Barrie, Ont. After moving to Thunder Bay, she took up soccer and five-pin bowling.
Nicole believes Athlete Ambassadors will play an important role in filling the knowledge gap that influences the public’s perception of her fellow athletes. “We’ll help people know more about Special Olympic athletes,” she explains. “A lot of people still don’t really know us.”
Nicole has a very active life outside Special Olympics. She loves to read and enjoys working at the Victoria Inn.
Veteran athlete Megan Fonso has been a vital member of the SOTB family for about twenty years. In fact, she first learned about Special Olympics as an elementary student at Ecole Gron Morgan and became one of the first youth athletes in a previously adult-centred organization.
Though she competes in swimming, track and field, bowling and rhythmic gymnastics and has travelled to Windsor to compete in SO Ontario Summer Games, Megan finds her greatest joy in the social life of Special Olympics. Her favorite moments centre on the friends she has made through sport. She loves dances and banquets, spaghetti suppers and the Parade of Lights and enjoys helping out with decorations.
Outside Special Olympics, Megan enjoys a very busy life. She belongs to a ladies activity group that shares adventures such as fishing on Lake Superior and kayaking. She works out frequently at the Canada Games Complex, loves going to movies and has recently begun taking cooking classes. She also enjoys travelling to music concerts and seen Backstreet Boys, Maroon 5, Blake Shelton and others. She also confesses an addiction to afternoon soap operas.
Megan brings a cheerful, positive attitude to her role as an Athlete Ambassador. Is she excited about the Special Olympics Canada Winter games 2020? A lady of few words, Megan simply answers “Yes!!!”