Special Olympics Manitoba "Of the Year" Awards

Special Olympics Manitoba would like to congratulate the following individuals for their achievements this year! 

Male Athlete of the Year – Darren Boryskavich, Parkland

Darren has competed in almost every Regional and Provincial Games in Manitoba; including Sport Manitoba’s Manitoba Games. Darren also has competed with success at National Games in the 1990’s as well as the 2014 National Summer Games for 5 pin bowling in Vancouver where he won a gold in the team event and silver in the individual. Despite some lingering health issues, Darren persevered and pushed himself to succeed at the 2016 National Winter Games. His inspirational dedication, true grit and determination resulted in placing in each of the events he was entered in. He is a dedicated athlete that works hard during training and takes pride in representing his town, province and country. Darren was also determined to reach a lifetime goal of representing Canada at a Special Olympics World Games; he is very excited and is already working hard in his preparations. He is training at a gym and at home, maintaining a great attitude and enthusiasm to compete.

Female Coach of the Year – Sharon Smith, Norman

Sharon was instrumental in securing a bowling venue when the original location was shut down and in the making of a virtual bowling competition happen for her team, the Thompson Stars. Sharon has had several of her athletes qualify for Team Manitoba in the past 10 years. Peter Sumas started bowling in 2008 and qualified for Team Manitoba in 2013 for the 2014 National Summer Games. Sharon spent extra days practicing with Team Manitoba athletes. She travelled with them to events hosted outside of Thompson. Sharon attended the athlete leadership training with our regions representatives. She also works at Juniper Centre, where a majority of athletes are employed. She has a good rapport with her athletes and is respected by them. She encourages her athletes to be the best that they can be. She allows all of her athletes to have the experience of travelling as a team.

Female Athlete of the Year – Natasha Vokey, Eastman

Natasha made a commitment to the sport of curling; gaining experience in several positions, finally advancing to play skip (which had been her goal for some time). In the sport of swimming, Natasha is highly motivated. She has a good understanding of the sport and strives to learn new skills; especially ones that prove challenging. She is always ready to learn and is motivated to improve. Over the course of 2 years, she advanced from the 25m to the 100m. When Natasha came to curling with Special Olympics, she had already participated in a Junior Curling program in Edmonton; which gave her a great foundation and understanding. Since coming to Manitoba to curl, she consistently improved and consequently was advanced to the Skip position. In the sport of swimming, it has been much the same. As Natasha committed to learning new techniques and as such competed in more advanced events; for example, in March 2012 she competed in the 25m & 50m backstroke…in March 2014 she moved up to the 100m free & 100m backstroke. In addition to curling with her Special Olympics club, Natasha also belonged to a local club which helped her tremendously in her personal growth as an athlete. Self-discipline was evident by her choice to remove other personal activities (swimming) to focus on improving her curling skills and becoming a better Skip…she wanted to be as prepared as possible for the 2016 National Winter Games. She took on fitness training, and extra practices whenever there was ice time available. Natasha has developed her independence as shown by her choices to focus on curling; her fellow athletes, parents and coaches saw that in action. Natasha also volunteers in the community on her own, and works hard to get the job done.

Builder of the Year – Sandy Skibo, WestmanSandy has participated in all areas of Special Olympics in Manitoba. She has recruited volunteers who are able to function in administrative roles, coach roles, financial roles, volunteering recruitment & in training roles and advocacy/mentoring roles for athletes. She actually fills all these roles on an ongoing basis herself. She is the backbone of the Westman Region and the “go to” person for anything related to Special Olympics. Since Sandy has become Regional Leader for Westman, there has been a substantial increase in registration of new athletes into our programs. Our visibility in the community has been heightened by actively participating in events such as the Children’s Country Fair where a group of athletes are on hand to interact with the general public; our rhythmic gymnastics program performs on stage. We also participate in the annual Traveller’s Day Parade with a float of athletes outlining our programs. Through this exposure, we have increased awareness of Special Olympics which has resulted in more athletes in our programs and increased volunteer and family participation. When one of our programs was without a coach, Sandy stepped up and took that on as well. Our Region has also sent athletes to SONA competitions, both in golf and softball (the summer of 2016 the Westman softball team will compete in Virginia), under the guidance and encouragement of Sandy. Aside from Sandy’s family, Special Olympics is her greatest passion. Whether it’s coaching softball, floor hockey or bowling; meeting with athletes to resolve differences; knocking on doors to ensure we have the funds to be effective; sitting at the Regional Council table representing the athletes and values of Westman, Sandy has committed herself fulling to the movement. She lives and breathes Special Olympics which is evident in her relationships with the athletes, coaches and volunteers….we are lucky to have her.

Athlete Lifetime Achievement – Jennifer Milton, Norman

Jennifer attended the National Summer Games in Halifax in 1994; she achieved several medals at this event. She was seconds away from a gold medal on her 100m backstroke. Twelve years later, she had her eyes set on that gold medal and achieved that in front of the home town crowd in Brandon. Jennifer is a dedicated athlete. She could be found at the pool at least 3 extra times per week on her own time practicing her skills and building her endurance. She continues that work ethic to this day. Jennifer demonstrates self-discipline and independence by going to the pool on her own. She is motivated to do this without supervision and has a strong drive to continue to improve. Jennifer is not only an athlete, she also acts as a volunteer for Special Olympics Manitoba fundraising activities. She sat at Walmart selling tickets, stood on the street accepting donations from community members, as well as selling many calendars. Jennifer is an active member of the Flin Flon community and that can be attributed in part of her participation in Special Olympics. Jennifer is always the first one to cheer on her team mates as well as any other athlete that she has met at competitions. She is friendly and respectful toward the officials and always shows appreciate for any help that she receives. She is patient and kind to all who she meets. We were at the 2015 John Lauder swim meet in Winnipeg where she had just met swimmers from another club…she cheered them on as if she had known them for years. When traveling to competitions, Jennifer is always mindful of everyone’s comfort. She would offer to share her snacks with all in the van. When she was asked to get ready to go somewhere, she would never complain and was always ready and prepared with all of the needed equipment. I have only seen respect for all officials from Jennifer…she is a kind and gentle soul.

Male Coach of the Year – David Kindrat, Westman

Dave has been a great coach, leader, and mentor for his athletes, assistant coaches, and program volunteers. He is currently a member of the Westman Regional Leadership Team, a position he first took on over four years ago. He takes the lead on fundraisers in the Region, such as “chuck a puck”, for the last two years. Dave doesn’t hesitate to help out in any area, anytime; he truly makes a difference within his club, his Region, and Manitoba as a responsible and passionate advocate/ leader for the movement. Dave is a head coach that includes and involves everyone in his program; he is personable, open, has a great sense of humour that instantly makes those around him comfortable. Dave knows and believes that together people can achieve more than when they’re on their own. Dave works hard and wants the best for his athletes; he inspires and leads by example, demonstrating to parents and assistant coaches that he wouldn’t ask of them anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He has a love for golf and is committed to being the best coach he can be….to Dave, that means supporting and encouraging others to do the same. As a former athlete himself who has competed at local through National levels, Dave understands the emotions and anxieties that athletes may experience in competition and in their training; he fully supports the idea of living a balanced life and developing as a person, not only an athlete.