Huge smiles were plastered on the faces of Langley’s Special Olympics basketball team as crowds cheered them on in their first match against R.E. Mountain Secondary School.
On Wednesday (April 24) the Langley Events Centre hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 Special Olympics B.C. Summer Games.
From 11 a.m. to noon, members of the Special Olympics B.C. Langley basketball team played against Langley RCMP members and players from Trinity Western University and R.E. Mountain Secondary.
The summer games will take place in Langley from July 11-14, where 53 Langley Special Olympics athletes will join more than 1,100 Special Olympians from across British Columbia and the Yukon.
They will be competing in 11 summer sports — bowling, aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer and softball.
As well as participating in the fun events, the athletes will also be competing for spots in the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games, being held in Vancouver.
For the athletes, the provincial games mean much more than just playing a sport.
“It shows (the athletes) that nothing can ever stop them, it doesn’t matter what they have or what they go through if they put hard work ethic into it,” said Krystele Chavez, media coordinator for the games.
“You will see that demonstrated on the field (and) in the court. Their lives are a testimony of it and through these games and this competition they are able to accomplish anything.”
The Langley basketball team has been training with the Trinity Western Spartans to help prepare them for the provincial games. The team’s ultimate goal is to earn a spot at the Canada summer games in 2014.
“These athletes have trained so hard, especially our Langley team,” Chavez said.
“All these people are struggling with something, but that doesn’t stop them from holding on to their dreams.”
Chavez and other members of Special Olympics encourage members of the public to come out to the events and cheer their Langley athletes on.
“Our basketball team is so ecstatic,” she said.
“The only thing they want is for their hometown to come out and watch them play. That’s what gets them going at these games, to have people jumping up and screaming at them.
“They are an enthusiastic team to watch.”
The organization is also looking for 1,000 volunteers to help out during the summer games in July.
To volunteer, please call 604-533-2233.
For more information on the event, visit www.sobcgameslangley.ca, follow them on Twitter @sobcsociety or visit their Facebook page Specialolympicsbc.