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ANTIGONISH, NS: A partnership forged between Kia Canada and Special Olympics Canada has resulted in a win-win for Special Olympians from across the country.
Both partners came together at the Canadian summer games held July 31-August 4 in Antigonish where athletes competed in athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, powerlifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball and swimming.
Kia Canada vice-president and COO, Ted Lancaster, said the idea of becoming a partner “has been an absolute slam dunk for all of us at Kia Canada and our dealers across the country.
“Ever since we announced it, the enthusiasm has been steadily growing with everyone taking a great deal of pride in the positive impact we are able to have.”
Lancaster said the support to date started with a special marketing campaign called the Special Summer Celebration with money being raised by dealers and staff. In addition, each Canadian Kia dealership donated $10 for each car sold in July and that will be matched by Kia Canada.
Kia had originally set a target of $150,000, but exceeded that by a wide margin with $165,820 being attained.
“Aside from helping with financial support, as a company that builds some of the best vehicles in the industry, we see an obvious role and responsibility to provide safe, quality transportation to the athletes, families and volunteers,” Lancaster said,
“In addition to the community cruisers we provide all year across the country, the 25 Sorento and Sedona vehicles that we provided for the national Summer Games have seemed to make a big difference, which is just great to see.”
Sharon Bollenbach, CEO, Special Olympics Canada, said, “Kia Canada has gone above and beyond to show its commitment to Special Olympics as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.
“We are thrilled with this additional $165,820 in funding, which will go to support over 45,000 athletes from coast to coast to coast continue to challenge their limits and reach their full potential.”
Lancaster attended the Games, handed out medals to athletes and what he saw impressed him.
He described the athletes “all hugging one another” and throughout “everyone had a smile on their face”.
Going forward, Lancaster said this was just the beginning for the Kia/Special Olympics partnership.
“I want to see Kia Canada become even more involved in the provincial programs,” he said.
“And I think we’ll continue to identify specific mobility needs that these athletes, families and volunteers have and provide solutions to them as best as we can.”
Lancaster believes that once people see the emotion and dedication of everyone involved with the Canadian Special Olympics, they will want to take part as well.
The world games are held in Abu Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March 2019 and Lancaster said Kia Canada will be involved in any way they can to help some Canadian Special Olympians reach a dream of a lifetime.
Lancaster’s message to Canadians is, “spread the message of inclusion and go to SpecialOlympics.ca to learn more, donate and volunteer,” he said.
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