A Special Olympics athlete from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House) in northern Manitoba will soon be competing in the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Kazan Russia.
William Hart, 18, will be competing in alpine skiing, but he’s also competed in past games in other sports including swimming and figure skating.
William is excited to get the chance to compete as an Indigenous youth.
“To get such an opportunity, not a lot of First Nations children actually get to go to like big sports like the Olympics or even the worlds for that matter that I know of,” he told APTN News.
William and his twin sister Jemiha were two of the 39 athletes who represented Manitoba at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The twins also competed at the Special Olympics Manitoba Winter Games in 2019 with Jemiha taking home three silver medals and William taking home two gold and one bronze medal.
While athletes are guaranteed travel and accommodation to and from games, family is not. So William is doing what he can to get his mom Marlene and twin sister to join him in Russia.
He’s asking for anyone to donate extra air miles they might not be using and is doing a chase the ace 50/50 draw to raise money.
“I am part of Special Olympics Canada team going to Kazan Russia for alpine skiing. I would like my mom [and sister] to accompany me to Kazan. They are my best cheerleading squad. We are doing a 50/50 raffle if you would like to donate air miles or whatever that would be nice so thank you,” William said in a Facebook video.
William’s mother Marlene said if she’s able to join him it would mean the world.
“Oh that would be very important. I mean for him to go to the world’s you know it’s unbelievable in the first place so it would really be nice to be able to watch him and cheer him on to see him, like this is a major thing so I think it’s just very important to cheer him on and be there and be emotional support for him.”
Until the games begin, William is training almost daily to keep himself ready. While there is no set goal for money to be raised, it is estimated that the total for Jemiah and Marlene to go is around $10,000.