Woodstock youth represents Special Olympics N.B. in national fundraising campaign

by | May 1, 2024

Floyd Atherton visits Woodstock Sobeys as the province’s Athlete of the Year for the Sobeys Empire Campaign

The large free-standing banner featuring his lifesize photo didn’t faze little Floyd Atherton when he visited Sobeys in Woodstock on Monday, April 29. As Special Olympics Canada’s Special Olympic Athlete for New Brunswick, Floyd, his mother Emily and several other family members visited the supermarket to promote the 2024 Sobeys Empire Campaign.

Emily, a Woodstock resident, said Floyd joined the Special Olympics as a three-year-old, starting in its Fundamentals program. The program, open to children aged two to 12 with intellectual and developmental disabilities, teaches coordination, provides opportunities to be active and offers social interaction with others.

Emily said the Special Olympics have become a big part of their lives.

“As a parent, I too have benefited from the support and interaction with athletes, parents, caregivers, and volunteers who give us unconditional understanding and a sense of belonging,” Emily explained in a social media post.

Floyd is the poster boy for the national fundraising campaign at all Empire Brand stores across Canada. Those stores include Sobeys, Safeway, IGA West, Foodland, participating Co-Ops (including Florenceville-Bristol), Thrifty Foods, Lawtons Drugs, and Needs convenience stores across Canada. Shoppers can donate $2 to Special Olympic programs each time they pass through the checkout until May 5.

Empire Company Limited (Sobeys Inc.) banner stores will match donations as they strive to raise $1 million for Special Olympics athletes.

Woodstock Sobeys manager Dave Wilson welcomed Floyd, Emily, family members and Special Olympics officials to the store on Monday.

Floyd Atherton, Special Olympics Canada’s Special Olympic Athlete for New Brunswick, poses with family and Sobeys Woodstock manager Dave Wilson during his visit to the store on Monday, April 29. From left, Sarah Budrow, Olivia and James Stokes, Emily and Floyd Atherton, Wilson, Brent Saunders, and Karla Saunders. (Jim Dumville photo)

Wilson said he and his staff are proud to participate in the campaign, noting the strong Western Valley Region Special Olympic program that serves families throughout the Upper Valley.

He said the store personnel, with generous corporate support, enjoy being a viable part of the community.

Debbi Graham, Special Olympics Regional Coordinator for Western Valley Region and Kate Marston, Youth Coordinator for Special Olympics New Brunswick, joined Monday’s celebration.

Graham said Floyd participates in the Fundamentals program and is now active in the Special Olympics bowling program.

Emily said bowling is a highlight of Floyd’s week.

“Floyd looks forward to bowling each week — often sitting by the door with his bowling balls long before it’s time to leave,” she said. “Floyd gets to interact with athletes of all ages which is so much fun for them and him.”

Marston said Special Olympics Canada chose Floyd’s name from among the two submitted by Special Olympics New Brunswick to the national organization for this year’s Youth Athlete.

She said the Woodstock youth followed Special Olympians from Fredericton and Saint John over the previous two years.

Graham explained that donations to the campaign go a long way toward creating a more inclusive community.

Debbi Graham, Special Olympics Regional Coordinator for Western Valley Region, joins Floyd Atherton next to the poster bearing his photo. (Jim Dumville photo)

“Every $2 donated helps provide one day of funding for an athlete enrolled in a Special Olympics program,” she said.

Graham encouraged everyone to add a critical $2 donation to their Sobeys grocery list.

Empire Company Limited has been a dedicated partner of Special Olympics Canada since 2016. The company said it would donate 100 per cent of the money raised to Special Olympics Canada, with no administration fees retained.

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