Main photo: (From left) Fran Coleman, Huntsville 2019 GOC Chair; Russell Zavitz, Manager, Games Unit, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Sheri Renaud, Huntsville 2019 General Manager; Angie Richard, President, Ontario Senior Games Association (OSGA 55+); and Geoff Johnson, Program Manager, OSGA55+ at the one-year-out celebration for the Huntsville 2019 Ontario 55+ Winter Games
In a year’s time, the Ontario 55+ Winter Games will return to Huntsville. The municipality hosted them successfully for the first time in 2013 and was awarded them once again last June. It is the only major provincial winter sporting event in Ontario for the 55-plus age demographic and is expected to have an economic impact of $2 million for the Huntsville area.
Last night, the Games Organizing Committee (GOC), led by Chair Fran Coleman, gathered at the Active Living Centre with community members, volunteers, dignitaries and Town of Huntsville staff to celebrate and launch a volunteer recruitment campaign.
“Here we are at the Summit Centre to ignite and kick-off the spirit and the spark for the Ontario 55+ Winter Games for next year,” said Coleman. “We’ve had a long history of sports and tourism in our community and this adds another layer to what we have successfully done.”
Mayor Scott Aitchison agreed. “We are no strangers to these events. We are good at it and we like doing it and we’re always happy to welcome people from all over the province and all over the world.”
He also gave a shout out to all of the volunteers who will be involved in the Games. “Having been involved in a few of these games now, it’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding… I appreciate your service to our community,” he said. “This is a community of volunteers and you’ve shown us once again that that’s the case.”
More than 400 volunteers will be needed in the lead up to and during the event. Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement applauded those who get involved. “We’ve got such a great history of volunteerism in this community. It’s just fantastic… I look forward to this already. I think it’s fantastic that we get to welcome the province again and show our traditional hospitality and show off our great community, both the people and the surroundings.”
Greetings and well wishes were also extended by Parry-Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller in the Ontario Legislature yesterday, and by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) and the Ministry of Seniors Affairs in messages to the organizing committee.
“Fran is a very accomplished community builder and volunteer in the Muskoka region,” Miller told his fellow MPPs. “She served as a town and district councillor for 20 years, during which she advocated for improved health care services, greater access to affordable housing, and increased supports for at-risk children and youth. A compassionate and caring person, Fran has also served on the board of Hospice Huntsville and is currently a volunteer with victim crisis and referral services… I want to thank Fran and her committee for their hard work, and express my support for their efforts.”
Russell Zavitz, Manager, Games Unit for the MTCS shared a message from Minister Daiene Vernile: “I am thrilled that the Town of Huntsville was selected to host these Games for a second time and I am certain that your vibrant community will deliver an exceptional experience for the athletes and their coaches, friends and families. Our government is pleased to support this event through the Games Ontario program, part of our commitment to helping more people participate and excel in sport.”
Minister of Seniors Affairs, Dipika Damerla, wasn’t able to attend the celebration, but sent the following message: “Supporting an active lifestyle for seniors is part of the government’s new Action Plan for Seniors. I commend the OSGA for their efforts in ensuring that seniors remain physically and mentally active, and have the opportunity to participate in fun and stimulating social pursuits with their peers.”
Huntsville 2019 General Manager, Sheri Renaud, unveiled the sports to be included in next year’s Ontario 55+ Winter Games: badminton, 10-pin bowling, curling, duplicate bridge, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, ice hockey, prediction skating, table tennis and volleyball.
She encouraged the community to follow the Games on its social media channels – facebook.com/Huntsville2019 and on both Twitter and Instagram @Huntsville2019 – and to watch for the launch of the new Huntsville 2019 website soon.
The celebration was also an opportunity to introduce the Games organizing committee.
The Town of Huntsville will host the 2019 Games from March 5 to 7, 2019, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Ontario Senior Games Association. It is expected to attract more than 1,000 athletes to the area. Community members and local businesses are invited to get involved with Huntsville 2019 as volunteers or sponsors. Email [email protected] for details.
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