Special Olympics athletes (from left) Sean Beddows

Feeding the Olympic spirit

Peninsula athletes last week helped launched Safeway's annual fundraising campaign for Special Olympics.

Athletes Sean Beddows, Alex Magee, Michaela Robinson and Stacey Kohler know the value of healthy eating – it helps them stay on track with their fitness goals, which include competing in their sports of choice on the world stage.

This month, they’re hoping others who also take nutrition to heart will further support their efforts, by donating to Safeway’s annual campaign in support of Special Olympics.

The two-week fundraiser launched Friday and is taking place across Western Canada through Nov. 1, encouraging shoppers – or anyone else who wants to support the cause – to donate. For a minimum $2, donors can receive five Air Miles.

Sean BeddowsLast year, the campaign raised $698,438 over four weeks, including $4,990 at the Ocean Park Safeway and another $6,316 at the Peninsula Village store.

Ocean Park store manager Kelly Rurka said she’s confident her store will raise more than $3,000 in the next two weeks.

“(There’s) excellent, excellent community support around here,” she said during a campaign kickoff with the athletes at the store Thursday, noting some customers come in every day to pitch in, many of them donating more than the $2 minimum.

“Lots of customers do it even without the Air Miles.”

In addition to other Special Olympics programs, the funds raised will help support training and sending Magee and Beddows to compete at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, set for March 1-5 in Cornerbrook, N.L. and a qualifying event for the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games in Austria.

Alex MageeIt costs more than $1,000 per athlete, noted Special Olympics B.C. communications manager Megan Grittani-Livingston.

Beddows, 38 and a longtime Safeway employee, will race in cross-country skiing; Magee – who agreed “good food” is essential to good athletic performance – will go for gold in figure skating.

Magee, 30, has competed in five previous national games and has medalled at the World Games level. Beddows has also competed at the national level, and medalled at the 2007 Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in Kelowna.

The pair are among nine SOBC-Surrey athletes on the Team BC 2016 Training Squad, after qualifying at the 2015 SOBC Winter Games last February.

Others on the roster are Susan Wang (alpine skiing); Dale Wright, David Baxter, Jay Laitar, Steven Drew (curling); and Marc Theriault and Stephanie Divin (figure skating).

Safeway Operations, Sobeys Inc. spokesperson Alana Purnell described the partnership with Special Olympics as a “tremendous opportunity” to help local athletes eat better, feel better and do better.

 

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