Since 1971, Operation Trackshoes has brought people living with developmental disabilities from across British Columbia together, for a weekend of sports and fun.
“We were a small group,” says Judith Armstrong, one of the founders of the annual event, remembering back to that first year.
“We were just out of high school. Some of us had been involved up at Summer Camp, and also had see pictures of other sporting events, Special Olympics and other things, and we thought there was need to do something that brought the two together. Brought together sports and camps and put it in one place.”
That first year there were 98 competitors ? it was a huge success.
“At that time,” says Armstrong, “there weren’t that many options for people with developmental disabilities. There’s certainly more today.”
This year Operation Trackshoes will take place pn Friday June 8th through Sunday the 10th at the University of Victoria.
Throughout its 48 year history, Operation Trackshoes has remained 100 percent volunteer.
“From our board, to the people who take lead roles on the weekend, to the volunteer counselors that come out” says Armstrong proudly.
Many volunteers, such as Jeremy Arney, come back year after year.
“I suppose you could say I’m hooked on the athletes” says Arney, an Operation Trackshoes volunteer since 1996.
“Their enthusiasm, their determination to do things which, for them, are great feats, but for us are ordinary.”
James Bradbury, a volunteer since 1991, agrees.
“I just love working with the people there. The excitement, the enthusiasm, not only just the competitors, but also the volunteers. I’ve met some wonderful people that are volunteers there, and I’ve kept in touch with them,” says Bradbury.
And while Armstrong is grateful for all the returning volunteers, she still needs more.
“We’re still very much in need of individuals who can come for the weekend, or part of the weekend,” says Armstrong. “We very much need people who can come Friday, and stay overnight until Sunday. They’re going to be matched up with competitors who are coming from all parts of the province.”
“It’s such a positive energy,” says Nicole Quast, a returning volunteer. “It’s a weekend that you’re always going to remember.”
Click here if you can give some time to Operation Trackshoes on June 8th to 10th.