For more than 25 years Joanne Thom has been dedicated to Special Olympics BC (SOBC), and this month she was recognized for her commitment.
Thom was inducted into the SOBC Hall of Fame as a builder inductee in the local category. Thom has volunteered with Special Olympics BC – Kimberley/Cranbrook and is currently the local coordinator.
“I was speechless,” Thom said about when she learned she was chosen. “It was really an amazing thing. You don’t expect to be acknowledged for what you do as a volunteer.”
The first thought in her head when she won was “Oh my God,” she said laughing. “I was totally surprised.”
The hall of fame recognizes those with significant, long-lasting contributions that individuals and groups have made.
Other recipients included: Matthew Williams, athlete; Lee Chic, builder (local); Michael Campbell, builder (provincial); Pam and Moray Keith, builder (provincial); Rick Lucy, builder (provincial); and Colin MacKinnon, builder (provincial).
When Thom got involved with SOBC it was because her daughter Erin is a special Olympian.
“We support her, and she’s a pretty gifted athlete. We are allowed to follow behind her and watch her compete at different events that she has taken part in,” explained Thom.
Having been to Toronto, Austria, South Korea and more for alpine skiing Thom and her family are going to Abu Dhabi next as Erin will compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games for golf in March.
The Kimberley/Cranbrook club has been increasing athletes over the years and offers many different programs such as 5-pin bowling, alpine skiing, basketball, bocce, curling, golf, softball, and swimming.
“We are very fortunate. Our athletes do very well. We have 18 going to the provincial games in February in Vernon. The last World Winter Games we had three athletes,” said Thom.
Throughout the years Thom has been volunteering with SOBC, she said a highlight for her was seeing her daughter qualified at her first world games, but the induction was right on in there as a top memory.
Thom continues to be fully active in the SOBC because of the athletes and seeing all they can accomplish.
“To see them accepted somewhere without having stigmas attached- it’s a great organization. It affords these people so many opportunities, with a very little cost involved in it for any of the athletes that travel. But, the people they meet throughout this area, province, Canada or however far they travel. It’s just a very special organization,” she said.
This year the Special Olympics is celebrating 50 years. Thom along with eight others was inducted in conjunction with celebrating the 50 years.
“With both things happening at the same time, it just made it that much more special to me,” said Thom. “It’s an amazing organization – I’m hooked.”
Now that she has won this award, Thom said she will just continue with her work and volunteering with Special Olympics BC – Kimberley/Cranbrook.