Frank Klees

Press release

Frankly Speaking
An article written buy Frank Klees, MPP
As published in the Auroran

January 22, 2013

Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt

I am dedicating this column to a very special group of athletes from our community.  Two alpine skiers and 15 members of the Newmarket and District Special Olympics floor hockey team will represent Canada at the World Winter Games in South Korea at the end of this month.

I had the pleasure of meeting many of them at a send off party this past Saturday at Jonathan's Restaurant in Aurora, and was impressed by their dedication to their sport and positive outlook.Their enthusiasm was infectious and it was obvious that they had been living the Special Olympics motto all their lives, " Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt".

You'll notice that most of these athletes tell you their heroes are parents or coaches. There's a very good reason for that. Without their dedication, the positive experiences to build self confidence and a sense of accomplishment would not be possible for these athletes.

I want to introduce you to these athletes and ask you to keep them in mind as you hear and see the reports from the games that will be taking place from January 29 to February 5 in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Members of the Newmarket and District Floor Hockey Team

Dana-Michelle Damiani (Newmarket) When not playing floor hockey she competes in other sports and volunteers in a hospital. Her heroes are her parents, who help her and love her.

Isaac Charles (Aurora) also competes in basketball, baseball and soccer and works part time at No Frills. His hero is Alexander Ovechkin.

Derek Perrott (Newmarket) also competes in baseball and soccer and works at Tim Hortons. His hero is his mom because she helps him through everything and supports him.

Jessica Porter (Newmarket) also competes in swimming and softball. Her hero is NHL player Marc-Andre Fleury and her goal at the games is to have fun, work hard and win gold for Canada.

Gregory Theriault (Aurora) has been Male Athlete of the Year and also competes in soccer. His hero is head coach Samantha Damiani because she pushes him to play his best at all times. He works at Home Depot and volunteers as a soccer coach.

Ryan Damiani (Newmarket) also competes in softball, track and field, bowling and swimming. His hero is his friend and fellow floor hockey athlete Ben Harding, because he is able to stop many goals. He works as a print shop and mail clerk.

Benjamin Harding (Pefferlaw) also competes in soccer and softball. He admires Martin Brodeur because of how he handles the pressures of the game. He operates equipment at Harding Excavation.

Shane Robinson (Newmarket) is an all-round athlete. He competes in swimming, track and field, 5-pin bowling, snowshoeing and once won Athlete of the Year for softball. He works at No Frills in cart delivery.

Matthew Nighswander (Stouffville) was recognized as male athlete of the year in 2006 and also competes in softball, swimming, golf, bocce and 5-pin bowling. He works at Chapter 21, a day program that teaches life skills. His heroes are Sidney Crosby and retired Blue Jay Paul Molitor.

Adam  Brookes (Newmarket) also competes in softball, golf, basketball and swimming. He attends the ABLE Network and works for the Town of Newmarket as a facility worker. His hero is Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays.

Bradley Ough (Schomberg) also competes in bowling and softball. His hero is his coach, Samantha Damiani. He is employed as a yard worker.

Jonathan Harding (Pefferlaw) was a gold medallist at the 2012 Special Olympics National Winter Games. He also competes in softball and enjoys playing golf. His hero is head coach Samantha Damiani . He works at Giant Tiger.

Brent Hoey (Newmarket) also competes in basketball, softball and golf. His hero is coach John Moore, because he's a cool guy. He works at Longo's.

Neil Paul Segouin (Keswick) also competes in basketball and soccer. His heroes are his parents because they tell him what is right and wrong and support him. He works as a cook at Swiss Chalet.

Samantha Damiani (Newmarket) Head Coach is proud of her floor hockey team, known as the Newmarket Ringers. She hopes that as a coach, she can help instill confidence in these athletes, not only in their respective sports but also beyond the games and in their daily lives.

Kyle Damiani (Newmarket) and John Moore (Newmarket) Associate Coaches

The Alpine Ski Team

Zoe Barnes (Newmarket) has competed at both the provincial and national level where she has won gold, silver and bronze medals. Her hero is her mom, because no one cheers louder for her. She is an avid swimmer and is currently a high school student.

Joe Cowdrey (Newmarket) has won two golds and two silvers at provincials in 2010, and a silver at the national winter competition in 2012. His hero is Ian Pavlik, because he keeps him motivated. He works as a line cook at local diners.

                                     Special Olympics Ontario ...... Worthy of our support

Special Olympics is a charitable, non-profit organization that provides sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability. These are remarkable people doing tireless work. They deserve our encouragement and support.

As always, I welcome your comments.