Recognition for the achievements of Antigonish town and county and St. F.X. continue to roll in, even months after the successful run of the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games last July.
Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher and councilor Mary Farrell accompanied Municipality of the County of Antigonish warden Owen McCarron and co-chair Marc Champoux, to accept the Prestige Award from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance in Ottawa, March 20.
Farrell described receiving the award and the recognition it entails as “another feather in our cap.”
“It was quite the adventure to take on such a huge commitment, but everyone had the organizational skills and overwhelming desire to volunteer,” Farrell said of the Summer Games. “It left the athletes and visitors with a feeling that this was their home.”
Farrell praised the partnership between the town and county of Antigonish, along with St. F.X, noting, “the three of us can do great things working together.”
“It’s a new way of doing things,” Farrell said of the partnership. “Years ago, it wasn’t, but now we can get a lot of work done.”
The summer of 2018 marked the first time in 50 years that the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games were held outside of a large center, Farrell noted, “so Special Olympics Canada really took a chance on us.”
“But we had serious commitments from the town, county and university, and from our co-chairs Carl Val Chisholm and Marc Champoux, and Bob Hale at the university saying, ‘if you give us a chance you won’t be disappointed.’”
The Summer Games in Antigonish last summer were the first event of that size coming to Antigonish.
“A total of $8.7 million in money as a result of the event proves that these are win-win events for the community,” Farrell said.
“It puts us on the map, and it’s the first time so large an event was held in town, and we were successful,” Farrell added.
The partnership with Sobeys and Michelin was one in which those partners “went far beyond their financial contribution alone to create a games experience for athletes, volunteers and supporters that was truly unique,” Farrell said.
Farrell said the award is a particular honour, not only because it gives Antigonish recognition, but that it acknowledges how Antigonish can hold its own against much larger cities also contending for the award.
“We were nominated for this award against the Grey Cup in Edmonton and against the Juno Awards in Montreal,” Farrell said. “And Antigonish, a small town against two huge cities, won. It was a win-win for everyone.”
Farrell noted the award shows the confidence that Antigonish exhibited on the national stage, taking on so great an opportunity and rising to the occasion of such a significant sporting event.
“You have to act like you are where you want to be, to get where you want to be,” Farrell said. “I’m not sure how to really explain it, but if you want to play with the big dogs, you have to be ready to actually play with the big dogs.”
The award was also very near and dear to Farrell’s heart particularly, she noted, because she served as chair of the opening and closing ceremonies.
“It truly was an honour that I was invited, and they put their trust in me,” Farrell said. “It has been a game changer because it has been overwhelming in what I learned. I’m honoured to have played a role in such a successful event.