Sports

‘Everyone should have a chance to win at life’

The Special Olympics means the world to Matthew Williams.

That was the message he delivered as the keynote speaker at the Langley Sport Celebration on Thursday night (Nov. 29) at the Langley Events Centre.

“Everyone should have a chance to win at life, and Special Olympics gives us that chance,” he told the crowd, which was assembled to honour some of Langley’s top sporting accomplishments of the past year.

The Township will be hosting the B.C. provincial Special Olympics Games this July.

“I invite you all to come out to the Special Olympics and see the determination, we Special Olympics athletes have, in being the best we can be,” he said.

“You will see amazing support for each other and pure joy in sport competition.”

Williams was born with epilepsy and had surgery when he was in Grade 1 to help control the seizures, which are now under control with medication.

He loved sports growing up and played organized hockey until he was 10 when he had to give it up.

“As much as I loved being on the team, it was hard to keep up,” Williams said.

“I was embarrassed and frustrated. I was sad to give up hockey, but it has become too difficult to participate.”

With no organized sports to play, Williams said he felt left out and sad. But in Grade 8, a teacher introduced Williams to Special Olympics.

“It has become a huge part of my life and given me so many opportunities,” he said.

“This makes me feel very good about myself; I love going to practices and competitions and being able to be myself, without being judged by others.”

Through Special Olympics, Williams also became involved with public speaking and that has led to his becoming a global messenger for the organization. That role entails him to speak on behalf of the organization about how much it helps the athletes.

Williams has also attended the Special Olympics World Summer Games — he went to Athens in 2011 — and will compete in South Korea in February.

“My position has given me an opportunity to spread the word about Special Olympics and why it is so important in our lives,” he said.

•••••

Among the other athletes and events that were highlighted at the celebration were:

• Dorothy Ludwig and Braedon Dolfo, who attended the Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively, this summer in London.

• David Esworthy, who was enshrined into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

• Prospera Valley GranFondo

• Langley Gymnastics Foundation

• The Trinity Western University men’s volleyball and women’s soccer team, which both won CIS nationals.

• The Langley Rams football team, which won the Cullen Cup and hosted the Canadian Bowl championship.

• The Langley Thunder lacrosse team, which won the WLA championship.

• The Langley Events Centre, which hosted several international, national and provincial events.

• And organizers of the Legion national youth track and field championships, which will be contested in Langley in both 2013 and 2014, also spoke on behalf of the event.

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