It is going to be a year of celebration for Special Olympics Yukon (SOY). In June, the organization rang in its 40th birthday and the yearlong celebration is just beginning.
“Any time you’ve got a reason to celebrate you want to seize those opportunities,” said Serge Michaud, executive director, Special Olympics Yukon. “You want to seize those opportunities whenever you can.”
The year 1981 is very important to SOY. In May of that year, the formerly known Yukon Special Olympics, alongside Quebec Special Olympics became accredited members of the Canadian Special Olympics.
Yukon became the first territory to have an accredited chapter in the Special Olympics family.
If May was when SOY was accredited, then why do they celebrate their anniversary in June? This is the month SOY became an incorporated society in the Yukon and a charity under Canadian law.
“So, we consider our birthdate June 1981,” said Michaud.
Throughout SOY’s four-decade run, no one would have imagined they’d be celebrating this milestone during a global pandemic. Still, Michaud said they will do the 40th anniversary right.
“We have a lot of great plans we are hoping to implement,” said Michaud. “We are going to celebrate this thing for 11 or 12 months. It’s been a long tough 18 months and, knock on wood, it looks like we are easing restrictions. I think no better way to celebrate that is to celebrate our 40th.
“Our athletes deserve it. They’ve come a long way, our coaches have come a long way and our sponsors and partners that have stuck with us all these years, and the new ones.”
To kick off the celebration, SOY launched its 40th anniversary logo.
The logo was created by Jodie Thomson, a local graphic designer. In the design, she had to incorporate ideas from SOY athletes.
“It was a brainstorm,” said Michaud. “We got a handful of submissions and all of the submissions had a heart incorporated or it used the colour purple. It was weird that all the submissions had one or the other.”
The use of the colour purple made sense to Michaud. Yukon travelling teams have the colour incorporated into the uniforms. The hearts came as more of a surprise.
“The hearts, I shouldn’t say it was surprising, but it was nice to see our athletes were, heartfelt, funny enough,” said Michaud taking a brief pause. “They show the love of the organization and really what it means for them and there is a lot of love involved in what we do.”
The logo is a purple 40 and in the zero, sits a red heart. Beneath it reads “Opening hearts since ’81”.
SOY has two upcoming events in August where the logo will be on display.
“The first time you’ll see that brand come to life is at our golf tournament on August 7 and then at our development games that take place August 27 and 28,” said Michaud.
“Every event or thing that we do will try and incorporate our 40th brand someway or somehow.”
Michaud joined the organization shortly before its 20th anniversary. He said reflecting on the past two decades has been humbling.
“I look at where the organization was after 20 years, and after 40 years, and the things that are consistent and should be consistent are our constant drive to offer quality programs for our athletes,” said Michaud. “(Also) offering exceptional training for our coaches and maintaining a good roster of partners and sponsors.
“The partners we had then are still partners today and it is humbling.”
To keep up to date on all SOY 40th anniversary events, stayed tuned in to their Facebook or check out their website.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org