HomeAustralia and New ZealandSpecial Olympics Australia celebrates athletes and launches 2027 World Games fundraiser

Special Olympics Australia celebrates athletes and launches 2027 World Games fundraiser

Special Olympics Australia celebrates athletes and launches 2027 World Games fundraiser

Special Olympics Australia made a triumphant return with its annual Gala Dinner, held on Saturday, October 21, marking its first grand gathering in three years due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The event was a testament to the organisation’s commitment to celebrating its athletes and kickstarting fundraising efforts for the upcoming 2027 World Games.

Set against the iconic backdrop of Luna Park Sydney, this glamorous fundraising gala was hosted by distinguished journalist and Nine News presenter, Peter Overton AM, with the charismatic support of Aussie icon and comedian Peter Rowsthorn. The evening shone a well-deserved spotlight on the remarkable accomplishments of Special Olympics Australia’s athletes and the unwavering community support behind them.

A special highlight of the night was the unveiling of the inaugural Champions of Inclusion Awards. These awards recognise companies and individuals who have demonstrated genuine dedication to promoting inclusion and empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism to lead fulfilling and inclusive lives.

Among the esteemed recipients were Metcash, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Deloitte and the gracious host, Peter Overton AM. These awards were presented by Special Olympics World Games athletes Lisa Weingartner, Bray Aquino, Chris Bunton and Michael Wheatley.

Chris Bunton, a multi-medallist from the Special Olympics Berlin World Games 2023, expressed his pride in representing Australia and his joy in being part of a celebration that recognised their achievements. Bunton’s three gold and four silver medals in gymnastics were a testament to his dedication and talent.

Bunton was one of the 64 Australian athletes with intellectual disabilities or autism who proudly represented their country at the Berlin World Games in June, collectively securing an impressive total of 63 medals. Their sights are now firmly set on training and preparing for the 2027 World Games (venue TBA) – and Special Olympics Australia continues to fuel these ambitions through various community sporting events nationwide.

Pierre Comis, Chief Executive Officer at Special Olympics Australia, expressed immense gratitude to corporate partners, athletes, their families and communities for their support in making the Gala Dinner a fundraising success.

“It was an evening of celebration, laughter, and inspiration as well as a fantastic opportunity to recognise the wonderful achievements of our athletes,” Comis said.

“We are very much looking forward to hosting more events that will help ensure we can continue this important work.”

The journey of Special Olympics in Australia began in 1976 when many individuals with intellectual disabilities were confined to institutions. Though this is no longer the norm in Australia, public support remains essential to ensure that those with intellectual disabilities are not excluded. Through sport, some of the most marginalised and isolated members of our community have the opportunity to strive for and enjoy personal achievement, pride and inclusion.

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