Melfort couple given national award for Special Olympics volunteerism

MELFORT — A Melfort couple was presented with a national award for more than three decades of volunteering with Special Olympics Canada

Dorothy and John Wickstrom were presented with the Jim Thompson Award at a ceremony Jan. 16 at the Melfort Curling Club. Dorothy started volunteering in 1988, while John followed after in 1994.

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“I feel really good. I feel like I’ve done something in this, I really do,” Dorothy said. “I love these people, these people love me. I know that. They still do. What more can I ask? It was fun.”

Dorothy first brought curling to Saskatchewan for the Special Olympics.

“They didn’t have curling. They can curl now until they’re 80, 90 if they want.”

Her favorite part about Special Olympics is the athletes.

“There are so many things that bring smiles to your face with them,” she said. “Naturally when they win, a lot of them didn’t know they were winning, that they had the right turn. But you smile and say, ‘okay’”.

Dorothy still intends to volunteer as long as she’s able.

Their nomination started through Marlene Earl, secretary with Melfort Special Olympics, nominating them for a provincial award.

“Then once they won the Saskatchewan Honourary Life Membership award, then they emailed me and said, ‘we’re putting their name in national, can you write another letter?’ I said, ‘sure,’” Earl said.

It was the amount of hours and dedication put in that was impressive to Earl.

“It’s just the hours and hours of behind the scenes work to start a brand new program in the province and to carry on and get other communities interested and see where it is now. It’s amazing.”

Dorothy suggests people take up the opportunity of volunteering with the Melfort Special Olympics.

“We always need more volunteers in our organization,” Dorothy said. “It would be lovely if we could get enough that we wouldn’t have to be going so many times in a year. John and I had to go to almost four games, having to do three practices a week and looking after them. It’s a lot, it takes a lot.”

“Anybody who gets involved with these people will always stay involved with them. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked,” Dorothy said. “It’s the best thing you can do, it’s so much fun. I just wish people could have that experience. The experience with working with these people is unbelievable, and we’ve learned a lot.”

People interested in volunteering may contact Earl at 306-921-4218. Positions available include coaching, executive, member at large and fundraising.

“It’s so rewarding,” Earl said. “If you have a certain sport you would like to continue with in the coaching mode, or if you would just like to be a behind the scenes person.”

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