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Calgarians gather at city hall to celebrate final day of Special Olympics Canada Winter Games

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The colder weather and snow moved the final day celebration for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games inside Calgary City Hall where there was a steady stream of activity to celebrate the games.

The Games Organizing Committee hosted the public come-and-go event for Calgarians to show their support for the more than 800 Special Olympics athletes competing at the Games.

This is also a big day for the athletes as they celebrate their accomplishments.

“This is really one of their only opportunities to come together across multiple sports throughout the games to see each other receive their medals outside of their own individual sport, get to celebrate the week together, get to share it with their family and friends and get to show off to Calgary the power and ability of these Special Olympic athletes," says Karen Dommett general manager of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024.

Everyone was encouraged to wear red and white clothing and celebrate the power of the Special Olympics movement.

The free event included a pancake breakfast, fun prize giveaways, DJ music, and photo booths while cheering on the games’ medallists as they take the podium for an awards presentation.

Saturday more than 1,000 medals were handed out to the athletes.

“One of the unique things about Special Olympics is that we have divisioning and that allows athletes to be categorized by their ability levels so it's not only just the most physically-abled athletes that get to compete; so every race every competition we do there's many different divisions so a different set of medals for each division," says Dommett.

Kayla Gent is a Calgary athlete who competed in pin-pin bowling and is taking home a bronze in team and a gold in singles.

She says winning medals in front of a hometown crowd was a memorable experience. “It’s great to have the Olympics in our city and I love Special Olympics. It’s just a proud moment for me. I was crying when I got my first medal today. I was not expecting to make it to nationals.”

The private closing ceremony presented by the Calgary Flames Foundation is at 6:00 p.m. Saturday at the Big Four Roadhouse on Stampede Park.

The short 45-minute celebration of the athletes is for invited guests only.

The action-packed closing ceremony is designed to celebrate inspirational moments, athletic achievement and a successful mission of leveraging sport as a catalyst for transformative change for a more inclusive Calgary, Alberta and Canada before passing the Special Olympics torch on to the next summer host city, Medicine Hat.

Medal winners at the Special Olympics celebrate their victories at the Seven Chiefs Sportplex on Siksika First Nation. (Photo: Facebook/Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024)

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games began on February 27 and saw numerous sports taking place at seven venues throughout the city.

More than 4,000 visitors came to Calgary for the 2024 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

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