Kalena Soehn, 19, from Red Deer who recently captured gold at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in trampoline, spoke at the 13th Annual Special Olympics Celebrity Breakfast on Wednesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer’s Kalena Soehn encourages involvement in sport at 13th annual Special Olympics Celebrity Breakfast

Kalena Soehn was likely bouncing before she could even walk.

Her athletic journey started ahead those first steps when her parents brought her into the gym they owned and she watched her brothers on the trampoline.

Since then, the 19-year-old Red Deer trampolinist has had more than her fair share of moments in the spotlight. From her early days competing at the age of eight, she has earned medals on the international and national level, including gold on the trampoline right in her own backyard at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. In short, she’s done a lot early in her competitive career.

The budding trampoline star spoke to a crowd of about 300 people on Wednesday, as the local celebrity at the 13th annual Special Olympics Celebrity Breakfast.

Soehn spoke eloquently about her journey in sport and what it took to arrive at such a high level so quickly. She still has a lot more she hopes to accomplish down the road and encouraged those who choose the path to embrace it wholly.

“Where sport can take you and the journey you can have through sport. The fun that comes with it and a lifetime of memories,” Soehn said of what she hoped the audience would take away from her talk.

“I hope I inspired them to keep pursuing sport. I was so honoured to be invited to this. I’ve never done anything like this so, to be chosen and to know that I am at a stage where I can use my platform to do something like this is amazing.”

The annual event helps support the hundreds of Special Olympics athletes in Central Alberta. A few local athletes were in attendance to hear Soehn’s message about the joys sport can bring.

Jerry Tennant, chairman of Special Olympics Red Deer added the event is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. He said they typically collect more than $10,000 which helps offset the cost for programs.

“In tough economic times, it’s gratifying to see the support that we do get from the business community,” said Tennant.

“The athletes always appreciate it and we always appreciate their efforts and that of our coaches, which we couldn’t do without. It is a strictly 100 per cent volunteer organization.”

Tennant noted that in Alberta they offer a variety of different sports for people with a variety of intellectual disabilities. They run programs year-round, with nearly a dozen sports between winter and summer activities. They are also always on the hunt for volunteers and as of now, they have about 65.

He added that volunteer support helps keep the programs going strong and with the funds they raise each year, it keeps costs low for athletes.

“We have athletes that come from 50-75 communities. We have athletes from all over Central Alberta that come to Red Deer because of our programs. It is going provincially and nationally. It is (still) always a bit of a challenge in terms of the support we need,” Tennant said.

2019 Canada Winter Games Update

Even if it wasn’t the focus of the event, Hugh McPherson, vice-chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, discussed the Games legacy, including infrastructure and athlete development.

Although the final numbers won’t be available until September, McPherson believes the economic impact will be close to $100 million. Local sports organizations also benefited, with close to $500,000 of equipment.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Two men arrested on drug charges in Blackfalds

Blackfalds RCMP say they expect to lay more charges after two men… Continue reading

Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary bullet train waiting for provincial blessing

A high-speed train project between Edmonton and Calgary, proposed in April 2018,… Continue reading

Home selling and building markets reflecting a tough economy, but hope in sight

Real estate sales and new home builds still lagging 2018

Former Sylvan Lake bank employee sentenced to three years in prison for $1M fraud

Red Deer woman was ordered to pay nearly $830,000 in restitution

All that jazz back at Sylvan Lake

17th annual Jazz at the Lake runs Aug. 16 to 18

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Hernandez, Gurriel lead Blue Jays to 10-4 win over Red Sox

Blue Jays 10 Red Sox 4 BOSTON — Teoscar Hernandez hit a… Continue reading

New head coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

TORONTO — Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team… Continue reading

Court of Appeal dismisses Paradise Shores arguments

A court will not hear arguments; sticks with appeal board’s ruling

Schitt’s Creek’ and its stars among Canadians with Emmy nominations

TORONTO — Eugene Levy thought the highlight of his Tuesday would be… Continue reading

Singh sees Quebec as ‘fertile ground’ for NDP as he hits province for tour

OTTAWA — The province of Quebec offers the federal New Democrats fertile… Continue reading

Airline confirms three dead after float plane crashes in Labrador lake

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Four occupants of a downed float plane remained… Continue reading

New developments in text-messaging controversy involving Manitoba chief

WINNIPEG — The women’s council of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says… Continue reading

N.S. minister holds off comment on wrongful conviction case due to past as Mountie

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s justice minister — a retired Mountie — says… Continue reading

Most Read