Central Albertans can show their support for Special Olympic athletes by biting into a 2023 #ChoosetoInclude donut at their local Tim Hortons from Feb. 3 to 5.
The chocolate cake donuts with white fondant, sprinkles and whipped topping will be available at Tim Hortons across Canada and 100 per cent of the proceeds goes to Special Olympics Canada to raise awareness and empower its 41,200-plus athletes.
The campaign comes on the heels of a new study that found young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities participating in Special Olympics programming are 49 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with depression than their peers.
Alberta Special Olympics CEO Sue Gilchrist said the goal is to raise $800,000 nationally which will go directly to Special Olympic chapters to run community programs to purchase equipment, access facility space to train, put on competitions, or whatever they need.
She said since Special Olympic athletes have intellectual disabilities they are disproportionately affected by poverty which makes it difficult to participate in recreational activities. Money raised by the donut campaign will also help Alberta athletes attend the 2023 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games to be held in Sherwood Park, hosted by Strathcona County, Feb. 24 to 26.
“We’re just very, very grateful for their support,” said Gilchrist about people who will be buying #ChoosetoInclude donuts this weekend.
“It really does impact the life of someone who is living with an intellectual disability.”
Special Olympics programs were unable to run throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said Alberta currently has about 2,600 athletes in the program, down from 3,500 prior to the pandemic. Another round of registrations will be held in the spring.
“We’re hoping to get to 3,000 athletes this year and anticipate to grow beyond that.”
Tim Hortons customers are also encouraged to participate in #ChooseToInclude social media photo challenge by posting a photo of their donut on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #ChooseToInclude. One winner from each province will win a $20 TimCard. For details visit specialolympics.ca.