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BMO and Elizabeth Manley Spark Dreams in Special Olympics Figure Skaters

February 28, 2024

One day removed from the 36th anniversary of Elizabeth Manley capturing the hearts of the nation with her riveting Olympic silver-medal figure skating triumph at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Canada’s sweetheart was back in the Stampede City for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024.

Manley joined Tsuut’ina Leader, Minor Chief Tyson Heavenfire, Brad Wells, Managing Director and Head of Energy at BMO Capital Markets, along with representatives from the Calgary Black Gold Synchro Teams to official open the figure skating competition, presented by BMO at Calgary’s Seven Chiefs Sportsplex that is playing host to the figure skating competition this week.

“BMO’s commitment to disability inclusion and equity in sport serves as a prime demonstration of how we fulfill our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life,” said Vanessa Lewerentz, Chief Inclusion Officer, BMO. “We’re thrilled to sponsor these games and extend our best wishes to all the remarkable athletes.”

Thanks to the generous investment from BMO in support of the Games Organizing Committee’s mission to build a more inclusive community where everyone including these amazing athletes can grow, achieve, and inspire through the Games, the figure skating competition demonstrates the essence of inclusion and the beauty of merging art with sport. The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games figure skating competition is an open canvas this week, providing athletes with intellectual disabilities paint their stories of resilience, passion, and determination.

With its unique blend of technical skill and artistic expression, figure skating is so much more than sport; it's a form of communication, a way for athletes to convey their emotions and narratives without words, using the ice as their stage. The history of figure skating in the Special Olympics is rich with moments that remind us of the power of inclusion, providing a platform for athletes to not only compete but also to connect with others.

BMO's support for this event underscores the company’s commitment to fostering an environment where all athletes are given the chance to compete and excel.

This is something that is also close to Elizabeth Manley’s heart. In addition to helping to open the figure skating competition, Manley is also leading on-ice workshops for the athletes, while sharing her expertise and offering valuable tips. Putting a priority on mental preparation and focus, the workshops provide a valuable opportunity for athletes to learn from a seasoned professional and gain confidence ahead of their competitions.

“To see the athletes out there – it’s so inspiring and it makes you realize there should be no barriers in sport. I remember the feeling of coming to the Olympics in Calgary,” said Manley. “Now this is their moment and I want to be right there with them, their cheerleader in the stands. I encourage you to come out and see it for yourself – it will change your life.”

Inclusion is at the core of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024. It's a celebration of the diverse talents that each athlete brings to the field of play, proving that when given the chance, they can soar beyond expectations.

Through the support of organizations like BMO, the Special Olympics continues to champion the importance of building more inclusivity communities that we work and play, proving that with the right mix of opportunity, support, and determination, every person has the potential to transform and reach new heights.

That is on full display as athletes skate, twirl an jump on ice at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex. Dreams are taking flight, and the art of figure skating is the medium through which athletes are able truly shine, showcasing their talents and challenging us all to embrace the beauty of ensuring all feel welcome and have a place to play.

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