Western Valley Region’s triumphant Special Olympians arrive home in style

by | Mar 5, 2024

Woodstock Police Force escorts returning team to AYR Motor Centre to celebrate success in Calgary

Five Team New Brunswick athletes from River Valley Region Special Olympics made a triumphant return home to Woodstock on Monday, March 4, from the Canadian Winter Games in Calgary.

The team members, led by Woodstock Police Force officers on behalf of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), arrived at noon to loud cheers from a small crowd gathered at the entrance to the AYR Motor Centre. 

Snowshoe racers Patti Connors and Calvin Grant proudly wore their medals, while floor hockey team members earned congratulations for their solid fourth-place finish at the games held from Feb. 27 to March 3. 

Connors, the most-awarded Canadian Special Olympian, added three more medals to her collection, earning a silver medal in the 400-metre snowshoe race and bronze medals in the 200-metre and the 4 x 100-metre relay. 

She also delivered a fourth-place finish in the 100-metre. 

Patti Connors, left, wears her silver and two bronze medals, and Calvin Grant, his bronze medal, earned in snowshoe racing at the Special Olympic Canada Winter Games in Calgary between Feb. 27 and March 3. (Jim Dumville photo)

On his first trip to the national Special Olympics, Grant earned a bronze in the 4 x 100-metre relay while sprinting for fourth-place results in the 100 and 200 races. 

River Valley Region Regional Coordinator Debbi Graham, who served on the New Brunswick mission team, said the three members of the floor hockey squad — goalie Frank Long and centres Marco Gauvin and Joshua Cousins — fell just short of the podium. 

“Floor hockey Team NB 2024 competed in 11 games and came home with a fourth place, following their hard-fought battle against Ontario-Newmarket in the Bronze medal game,” Graham said.  

Three Western Valley Region Special Olympics athletes played with the Team N.B. floor hockey squad. From left, Joshua Cousins, Marco Gauvin, Frank Long and River Valley Region coordinator and mission staff member Debbi Graham.

As he arrived at the AYR Motor Centre, Long proudly wore the red Calgary Flames toque he explained he received for being named MVP.

Grant called the trip a wonderful experience on and off the playing field. 

He enjoyed taking pictures atop the Calgary Tower and the opening ceremonies, especially the Native dancers. 

Competing nationally and internationally is an old hat for Connors, who attended numerous Canadian games and five Special Olympic World Games. 

The veteran Special Olympian is already inducted into the Woodstock Sports Wall of Fame at the AYR Motor Centre. 

She said the best part of the trip was all the snowshoeing and seeing old friends. 

Graham said Connors is well known across the country and beyond.

“Everywhere we went you’d hear someone saying, ‘hey Patti,'” she said.

Even after three decades of competing in the Special Olympics, Connors’ racing philosophy remains the same. 

“I just put my head down and go as fast as I can,” she said. 

Three members of the Woodstock Police Force — community liaison Cst. Shawn Kimball, Sgt. John Wetmore and Cst Anthony McIntyre — met the returning athletes upon their arrival back in Woodstock and led them to the AYR Motor Centre with sirens sounding. 

Kimball said the WPF is an active member of the LETR and a strong supporter of the Special Olympics. 

Patti Connors is on the snowshoe race track in Calgary, where she brought home three medals. (Debbi Graham Photo)

Woodstock’s Calvin Grant is focused as he races in Calgary. (Debbi Graham photo)

Team N.B. played 11 action-filled games in four days en route to a fourth-place finish. (Debbi Graham photo)

Team N.B. in action during the floor hockey tournament at the Special Olympic Canada Winter Games in Calgary. (Debbi Graham photo)

Team New Brunswick celebrates at their bench during floor hockey at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Calgary. (Debbi Graham photo)

For road conditions, click the map

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.