Denise Thiessen has been the coordinator for the 100 Mile House Special Olympics program for eight years but now she is looking to step away.
“Time to pass the reigns. I just got a lot of other things on the go and unfortunately, I need to let some things go but we’ll see what happens. If the right person comes along and wants to take over by all means,” she said. “When you do something for so long that you really enjoy it’s a hard decision to make.”
Thiessen described it as any volunteer position where you can put in as many hours as you like. The program has 17 athletes and runs a bowling and golf program, with the majority of the athletes involved with bowling.
“It’s a little bit of work but it’s enjoyable work and once you get to know our athletes it’s a lot of fun,” Thiessen said.
She got the gig after she went to Cedar Crest for a client’s birthday with her son, Ryan (who also attends Ceder Crest) roughly 12 years ago and a couple of the clients kept asking Ryan to go bowling with them.
“So we just kind of came out one Tuesday afternoon and we’ve been going there ever since and the local coordinator at that time was ready to step down and so I took over in 2010 and have been doing it ever since,” she said.
Thiessen said she has learned a lot of patience and been educated in diverse mental disabilities, management and has bettered her organizational skills, something she has said she has never really been good at.
She found herself organizing several trips to Kamloops, Langley, Quesnel for the Summer Games or just fun tournaments.
The most important skill in the job she says is having a great sense of humour and being an outgoing person and trying to take the athletes further.
While she has learned to be more patient she still thinks it is the most challenging part of the job, especially when it comes to finding out if her athletes have qualified for the next stage from the Special Olympics BC provincial offices’ number crunchers in Burnaby.
Thiessen is the type of person who needs to get everything done right away and move forward.
“We had one team that went to Dawson Creek for bowling qualifiers and then they qualified to go the Summer Games in Kamloops last summer,” said Thiessen about one of her favourite highlights. “Every time we get together it’s different. It’s just our little trips we’ve made here and there. It’s highlights all the time.”
Two teams have possibly qualified for next year’s Winter Games in Vernon but are awaiting the results from the provincial offices after hosting the qualifying tournament on March 24.