Everybody plays! Local man starts Special Olympics-type program

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Playing sports is one thing. Doing it in front of people who are cheering for you is quite another, and that’s what Leard Robertson of Slave Lake hopes to arrange for people with special needs in the community.

Robertson is launching a program he’s calling ‘Everybody Plays!’ It starts with a curling event on March 22 and will consist of three more events through the year.

“Two main points,” says Robertson, who manages the curling rink in winter and is the groundskeeper at Gilwood Golf Club in the summer.
“Participation and public acknowledgement.”

One of the people participating in the curling event on the 22nd is Myles Gole. Robertson calls him “The poster boy” for Everybody Plays! In fact Myles is on the poster that Robertson, Myles and his mom Sherry Gole were putting up around town last week. Among other things, it says: “Local youth or adults with any special needs are encouraged to come out and try different sports. Experience the excitement of playing and being cheered on by the fans.”

The fans are important, according to Robertson’s vision for the series of events. Speaking of which, he figures to do a baseball one, a golf one and “something in the swimming pool,” later in the year.

A related project is getting a sledge hockey program going in Slave Lake. The sport was introduced during Frost Fest last month, with people given a chance to operate a sledge on the ice for the first time. Sherry Gole says she has 10 of the sledges available for use now.

“Ice time is the biggest thing,” she says.

Robertson says he hopes to be able to get former Humboldt Bronco and current Team Alberta sledge hockey player Ryan Strachnitski to Slave Lake to provide a clinic in the sport.

But for now, curling is the thing. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. at the curling rink in Slave Lake and includes a free lunch.

“We’d like to run out of food,” says Robertson. “Come on down and watch!”

The Everybody Plays! team (or part of it). Left to right are Leard Robertson, Myles Gole and Sherry Gole.

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