Jan 31 2018

Meet Our Winning Athletes, Coaches and Volunteers!



The 2016 Provincial Leadership Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the Special Olympics Provincial Awards for 2016. Awards will be presented at the Inspired Gala on February 1, 2017 at the Cunard Centre, Halifax, N.S.


The 2016 Special Olympics Nova Scotia Provincial Awards Recipients:

Name  Region Award
Don Acker  Halifax Official of the Year
Wes Anstey  Eastern Highlands Volunteer of the Year
Nikitia Penny  Shelburne Female Athlete of the Year
Robert Burchell  Cape Breton Male Athlete of the Year
Emma Grandy  Cape Breton Female Coach of the Year
Cody Arseneault  Kings Male Coach of the Year
Sackville/Bedford Floor Hockey  Sackville/Bedford Team of the Year
Martin Fudge  Shelburne Dr Frank Hayden Award
Michael MacMullin  Cape Breton LETR Award
Ed McHugh  Halifax Chairperson’s Award


Support the athletes, coaches and volunteers of Special Olympics – become a sponsor, donate auction items, donate tickets to athletes, buy tickets to the gala!


Robert Burchell, Male Athlete of the Year
Sport: Speed Skating
Region: Cape Breton

robert-burchell-8yrs-editedRobert Burchell of New Victoria has been participating in Special Olympics before Special Olympics even existed in Cape Breton. At the age of 8 years old, Robert embarked on his first ever summer games trip with 2 complete strangers, headed for Halifax. This was Robert’s very first competition, and he never looked back. Now, 53 years young, Robert has accomplished more than most athletes and has no plans to slow down any time soon.  To date, Robert has attended 4 National Games.  Most recently, Robert was in Corner Brook attending the 2016 National Winter Games, where he represented his province with pride and class, accumulating 4 medals including 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze.

Robert is a true embodiment of what a Special Olympic athlete is all about. He is a leader within his sports, as well as in his community.

Nikitia Penney, Female Athlete of the Year
Sport: SnowshoeingNikitia Penney
Region: Shelburne

Nikitia Penney of Shelburne County is a natural athlete and a very successful one at that.  She most recently won Gold at the National Games in Newfoundland. Over the years she has participated in floor hockey, athletics, basketball, soccer and snowshoeing, proving to be a very well-rounded athlete.  Excelling on the playing field and winning medals are only one aspect of a great athlete. The other aspect is to recognize her ability to be a lea
der and celebrate her personal growth on and off the sports arena.  Special Olympics has transformed Nikitia over the years into a confident young woman and her athletic esteem has also positively impacted her personal growth.

Martin Fudge, Dr. Frank Hayden Award
Region: Shelburne

martin FudgeMartin Fudge is one the longest serving athletes in Shelburne County.  He is well-known and respected in his community which makes perfect sense why he is known as the region’s “Fundraising Champion.”

Martin is a dedicated athlete who continues to train and participate in both the summer and winter programs, as well as hold down a full-time job.  In recent years, Shelburne has had a number of new athletes join their programs and Martin consistently demonstrates leadership and kindness as they become familiar with their sport and teammates.

Martin is fully involved with making things work in his community.  During last season’s annual bowling tournament Martin booked the lanes, sent out invites, organized the prizes and awards and even worked with the Lion’s Club to cater the lunch.  Martin’s dedication and commitment has demonstrated the essence of Special Olympics.  Martin is an athlete who exemplifies the ideals of the positive spirit of sport that represents the core mission of Special Olympics.

Emma Grandy, Female Coach of the Year
Sport: Speed Skating
Region: Cape Breton

Emma Grandy, a leader, mentor, and role model are words that best describe what an amazing coach she is.  Emma has coached with Special Olympics for 5 years and has very quickly become one of the province’s best coaches and overall volunteers.

Emma GrandyShe prides herself on creating positive experiences and working hard to train her athletes, helping them achieve their goals.   She volunteers in the pool, on the floor hockey court, at all regionals events, and most recently with speed skating.  Emma’s most notable highlight was coaching Team Nova Scotia speed skaters at the national games in Corner Brook, where she helped her team of 4 earn a combined total of 11 medals. Of course, if you ask Emma, this was all the athletes doing; she only played a small role in their success. Emma has now taken on the role of training coach for one of our athletes headed to Austria in 2017. The athletes truly look up to Emma, and they enjoy every second of their time spent with her. She ensures every time they are together, they have an unforgettable experience, and they leave with a smile on their face.

Emma is a true leader for Special Olympics, and is the future of our organization in Cape Breton. It is because of the dedicated coaches like her that we have grown to where we are today, and continue to grow as an organization. Emma works tirelessly for her athletes, and is willing to become a better coach any way she can.

Cody Arsenault, Male Coach of the Year
Sport: Floor Hockey
Region: Kings

Cody ArsenaultCody Arsenault has been instrumental in the success of team sports in the Valley.  He coaches team sports all year round: soccer, floor hockey and basketball. Cody applies technology to his coaching tools by capturing practices on video, editing and uploading the clips to YouTube posting so the athletes can see themselves playing. The athletes’ growth through this process has been instrumental to their success as a team.  His time and efforts in preparation most recently helped his floor hockey team qualify to attend the 2016 National Winter Games in Newfoundland.

Cody is an inspiring coach… He is passion has had a lasting impact on the lives of the Special Olympics athletes. He really demonstrates what it means to be a strong, thoughtful, inclusive coach.

Don Acker, Official of the Year
Sport: Athletics & SnowshoeingDon Acker
Region: Halifax

Don Acker has helped develop and grow the sport of athletics and snowshoeing with his expertise in officiating with Special Olympics Meets.  Don has been the lead starter at all provincial summer games in athletics and winter games in snowshoeing and has mentored many new up and coming officials.  He has used his competition expertise and transferred his wealth of knowledge to provide a high quality competition for our athletes. He continues to raise the competition standards and delivers one of the highest quality meets in the country. We are privileged to have him running our meets and we look forward to having him continue to grow the sport.

Wes Anstey, Volunteer of the Year
Region: Eastern Highlands

Wes Anstey walked through the doors of an Eastern Highlands bowling practice 13 years ago and it hasn’t been the same since.  He began by keeping score for a weekly bowling program; since that time he has coached bowling, bocce and curling, both at the regional and provincial level.  He has been on the region’s organizing committee for 12 years and is always willing to help out with whatever needs to be done. He brings enthusiasm, energy and humour to every event, whether it is a practice or a competition.

Wes AnsteyWes has been instrumental in the development of our curling program.  Three years ago, Wes approached the local committee with a plan to raise money to get a curling program started.  He wanted to purchase equipment and uniforms. He successfully applied for grants, researched prices and ordered gear.  He started coaching in a gym and moved to the ice when the athletes were ready. He did it all!

He is now responsible for 2 curling teams and arrangements transportation to the curling rink is in St. Andrews, about 10 miles from town.  And now more athletes can participate.  They have shown remarkable growth over the past couple of years – from not being able to get the rock halfway down the ice to successfully competing at Provincial Games.  This is in large part due to Wes’ hard work and dedication.

Wes has demonstrated a commitment to improve his coaching skills by taking courses and seeking out expertise from those involved in Special Olympics and generic sport.  He is always willing to learn and demonstrates great respect for athletes, volunteers and families. Wes is a leader in our organization and for these reason we are pleased to congratulate Wes as this year’s Volunteer of the Year.

Sackville-Bedford Bravehearts, Team of the Year
Sport: Floor Hockey
Region: Sackville-Bedford

2016 Floor Hockey TourneyThis year’s Team of the Year are the Sackville-Bedford Bravehearts. The Bravehearts identity isn’t about what competitions they have won or what individual successes have occurred, but about the growth and personal development of character that they have shown through adversity and change. Every successful team has to overcome adversity and this is true for the Bravehearts. During the past season they were not able to attend provincials, but the athletes continued to practice, determined all the more to work on their skills and to improve their team play.  The athletes trained harder than ever and demanded more from themselves, yearning to learn and with greater expectations. A year later and the growth that has been demonstrated from this team is beyond belief.  Not only has the floor hockey program grown in number, but athletes are engaged and encouraged to push themselves to new heights.

They are excited about the skills they are learning and are working closer as a team, understanding that it takes everyone doing their part to be successful. It is about each athlete working together towards a common goal and opportunity.  The respect and consideration that they have for one another is shown in their attitudes and their willingness to communicate and mentor one another.  They truly are a role model team and an example to many.  It has truly been a blessing to watch and witness the growth and transformation of these athletes.

Michael MacMullan
LETR Award

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest international volunteer fundraising movement for Special Olympics. The Torch Run is a running event, in which officers and athletes run the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, Provincial and National Games. More than 85,000 dedicated, compassionate and volunteer law enforcement officers participate annually in the torch run throughout North America. More than 560 million dollars has been raised since its inception in 1981.

Michael MacMullinThe second annual Special Olympics Nova Scotia Law Enforcement Torch Run Award honours Michael MacMullin a retired police inspector from the Cape Breton Regional Police Service. Mike has been fundraising and building awareness for Special Olympics athletes in Cape Breton and across Nova Scotia for 29 years. He has been fundraising for L-E-T-R, especially with T-shirt sales, assisting at the games, guarding the Torch at runs and games and presenting medals to the athletes. He has coordinated the sale of LETR t-shirts across Nova Scotia, organized and participated in LETR runs, presented medals at the games, volunteered at truck convoys. Perhaps most importantly, Mike has been the guardian of the LETR torch for many years, making sure the Torch was at games and runs across the Province.


Ed McHugh

Dr Elizabeth A Chard Award

Ed McHughEd McHugh has been one of those volunteers that charities often refer to as their “Star” finds.  His giving spirit has been shining bright with the Special Olympics movement since the year 2000 where he first began as the Emcee of the Medal Ceremony at the Provincial Games.  Nearly 25 Provincial Games and 60,000 medal presentations later, Ed still presents each medal like it is the one and only medal of the games.

Over the past 17 years Ed has been a member of the Provincial Games Organizing committee where he and his wife Shelley have acted as event co-chairs as well as the chair of the Medal ceremony. His involvement steadily grew to include not only the provincial events but also local and regional meets and fundraising initiatives.  His strong passion for the athletes and his natural talent on the microphone has seen Ed act as the Co-Emcee for the Special Olympics Gala as well as the voice of our reception and auction and a strong force on the sales committee.

After ten years of involvement that saw him rise to become a member of the Board of Directors, Ed assumed the position of Chair where he was actively involved in every aspect of the organization.  Upon completion he remained on the board until vacating his position for new members just two years ago.  Since that time he has still remains the “voice’ of Special Olympics though the annual Truck Convoy, the Dr William Stanish Luncheon, local Auction nights and of course the medal ceremony.

Ed is the only volunteer who has ever won the President’s selection twice.


Support the athletes, coaches and volunteers of Special Olympics – become a sponsor, donate auction items, donate tickets to athletes, buy tickets to the gala!

Posted December 15, 2016 in: News, Sport, Tickets by SpecialONS Gala