Special Olympics Ontario CEO touts importance of 24h BLUE MTN

#24h Blue Mountain News

If the opportunity to ski, walk or runall night long at 24h BLUE MTN isn’t enough to convince you to join in the fun, hearing about the impact the event has on worthy causes just might.

One of those causes is the Special Olympics Ontario, where President and CEO Glenn MacDonell says events like 24h BLUE MTN are vital to his organization.

“About 93% of funds we raise are personal donations or sponsorship,” MacDonell says. “So we’re really reliant on grassroots donations and events like 24h BLUE MTN.”

MacDonell has been with Special Olympics Ontario since 1988 and he’s seen the organization grow from 4,800 athletes to about 26,000. Prior to that, he worked with the intellectually disabled for 10 years and felt his experience, combined with his passion for sports, would make him a good fit with the Special Olympics. MacDonell believes sports are crucial for those with intellectual disabilities to help with fitness, create social networks, and feel a part of the community.

“Sport is really the tool that we use to integrate people and the biggest challenge, if you talk to a parent of any child or adult with an intellectual disability, is getting them to feel they are really part of the community,” he says.

MacDonell also added events like 24h BLUE MTN are terrific for The Special Olympics growth and development initiatives.

As much as the money raised in last year’s 24-hour relay helped Special Olympics Ontario, there have been plenty of non-monetary benefits as well. MacDonell cites the exposure his organization received from 24h BLUE MTN as invaluable.

In terms of raising awareness for charities, events like 24h BLUE MTN are key. “We have a lot of people who really didn’t have much depth in Special Olympics last year, but they joined because this looked like a really interesting event to be part of, and it was,” MacDonell said. He also notes that the event was run extremely well last year which in the end benefits the organizations it’s supporting. “We saw a lot of uptick from people saying ‘I want to come back and when I come back, I’m going to tell a few friends.’ There is no better advertising than that.”

MacDonell sees this second 24h BLUE MTN as a stepping stone to bigger things for the event, as he believes it boasts a festival atmosphere that will continue to grow and get bigger over time.

When it comes to his own organization, MacDonell has seen it evolve immensely over the last 30 years, but he still believes there’s room to grow.

“Health and social advocacy is something that we need to play an active role in and I think we have, but there’s lots more to do though.”


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