L-R: Pierre Comis, Special Olympics Australia | Helen Kealy, Metcash | Peter Overton AM, Nine Network | Alan Keane, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics | Fiona Craig, Deloitte
Special Olympics Australia simply wouldn’t exist without the long-standing and generous support from amazing group of partners, and we were delighted to recognise four of them at the Gala Dinner by presenting them with our inaugural Champions of Inclusion Awards.
The Champions of Inclusion Awards recognise organisations or individuals who have given exceptional support to Special Olympics Australia and our athletes.
Pierre Comis, CEO of Special Olympics Australia said, “It’s been a great honour to be able to create this award and to rightly recognise those who do so much for our athletes and the Movement around the country.”
Meet the 2023 award winners below.
Metcash has been a Major Partner of Special Olympics Australia since 1992, after initially supporting Team Australia to attend the 1991 Special Olympics World Games in Minneapolis, USA.
The length of our partnership demonstrates Metcash’s commitment to local communities where they promote inclusion for everyone.
Every year, Metcash, raises funds for Special Olympics Australia through the sale of selected products in IGA supermarkets across the country, plus various other fundraising activities like the annual Community Chest campaign.
Local stores also regularly donate water and healthy food to keep our athletes fuelled for sport and competition, from local events right up to National Games.
Last year for the Special Olympics Australia National Games in Launceston, IGA donated fresh fruit and water to meet the needs of 750 athletes and over 600 volunteers for seven days.
They also continue to help Team Australia compete at Special Olympics World Games.
Thank you Metcash.
The Champions of Inclusion award was presented to Doug Jones, CEO, Metcash Group by Special Olympics athlete, Chris Bunton.
In his thank you speech, Doug said, “This is really such a wonderful acknowledgement of 31 years of partnership. This partnership is extra special because our values are so well aligned. The IGA purpose of putting back the heart and sole into the community is very close to our hearts. Inclusion matters for us and this partnership matters…and I look forward to another 31-plus years of this partnership.”
There are early accounts of torches being run into local Games and even National Games in Perth 1994 and Hobart 1998. But the Law Enforcement Torch Run really took shape in 2002 after Former Deputy Police Commissioner, Norm Maroney attended the International LETR Conference.
Norm bought back ideas and enthusiasm which led over 300 members of the police services of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and ACT to unite to transport the Flame of Hope from Hobart to Sydney for the 2002 National Games. The week-long journey through 17 towns was hosted in conjunction with Metcash and Rotary.
Since then, LETR has strengthened around the country and officers have hosted hundreds of Torch Runs. They’ve also provided support for local sports and social activities, right up to international travelling teams.
Special Olympics Australia athlete Teresa Gage sums up her and her friends experience of LETR over the years, “Our friends at Law Enforcement Torch Run have made many things possible for all of us. Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship.”
Thank you LETR team.
The Champions of Inclusion award was presented to Alan Keane, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics by Special Olympics athlete, Bray Aquino.
In his thank you speech, Alan said, “The concept of law enforcement officers getting together with athletes is a win-win for everyone. Pierre to you and everyone in your organisation, keep up the good work. You provide opportunity where none exists, you encourage perseverance in the pursuit of success, and you simply chase equality in a world where it is clearly lacking, and we are very proud to support you and continue to support you.”
Alan also announced that Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics will provide $250k to support a Healthy Communities initiative at events around the country – the largest one-off funding commitment by LETR to Special Olympics Australia.
Special Olympics Australia has been fortunate over the last two years to develop and grow a strong relationship with Deloitte Australia and we have experienced first-hand Deloitte’s commitment to make an impact that matters.
When first approached to assist Special Olympics with developing the World Games Perth 2027 Bid, Deloitte welcomed the opportunity with open arms.
Not only did they work with us on a pro-bono basis, at a cost to them of approximately half a million dollars, they went above and beyond to make sure we delivered the most compelling bid.
More recently, Deloitte has continued to work with Special Olympics Australia to map out a sustainable future by guiding us in the development of a new Strategic Plan.
We know Deloitte fosters diversity and inclusion across its 15,000 employees and actively celebrates this.
Thank you, Deloitte Australia.
The Champions of Inclusion award was presented to Fiona Craig, Partner, Deloitte Asia Pacific by Special Olympics athlete, Michael Wheatley.
In her thank you speech, Fiona said, “We’re thrilled and very proud to receive this Champions of Inclusion award. At Deloitte we know that sport has the power to change the world, by making positive and lasting impact for communities and for all Australians. Our partnership with Olympic Movement and our support for Special Olympics Australia is our way of bringing to life our commitment to inclusion.”
Respected Australian journalist, Peter Overton AM became the first national Ambassador for Special Olympics Australia in December 2001. Since then, he has been regularly spotted at competitions starting with his first outing at the Special Olympics Australia National Games in Sydney in 2002.
Whether it’s a team send-off, a promotional plug or a welcome home celebration, Peter supports athletes whenever he can. Athletes, including Chris and his teammates who competed at this year’s Special Olympics World Games.
Peter first met Chris in 2007, when he returned home from his first World Games in Shanghai with a swag of medals won in gymnastics. Since then, Peter and Chris have worked together many times, including promoting the annual IGA Community Chest campaign.
Apart from supporting sport and competition and fulfilling promotional opportunities, Peter is also a regular host of our fundraising events and one of our biggest high-profile supporters.
Thank you Peter.
The Champions of Inclusion award was presented to Peter Overton, Nine Network by Special Olympics athlete, Lisa Weingartner.
Peter was taken by surprise by the announcement and gave a very emotional thank you speech where he said, “I’m not lost for words much, this means a hell of a lot and we have done a lot over the last twenty-plus years with athletes and seeing many of them grow and develop has been an enriching experience for me. I’ll always stick with you.”