Special Olympics fundraising dinner packs Pen Lakes

Attendees peruse the silent auction items on offer as twilight descends. VOICE PHOTO

BY VOICE STAFF

 

The entire restaurant—and most of the patio—at Peninsula Lakes Golf Club was filled last Wednesday evening with attendees at a fundraising dinner for the Welland/Pelham Special Olympics Community. This year’s event was dramatically larger than the inaugural dinner in 2016, when less than one dining room was filled.

“We’re going to have to add on to the golf course next year,” joked Craig Gawley, a Sobeys official responsible for Niagara.

Sobeys was the chief sponsor of the dinner, providing the pasta (the meatballs and sauce were donated by CC’s Dugout Italian Eatery) in addition to the 14 different stores which bought tables of eight.

Ron Kore, owner of Pelham Sobeys and this year’s Kinsmen Citizen of the Year, bustled around all evening, greeting people, introducing them to others, and encouraging bidding on the silent auction. There were dozens of items open to auction, many of them food baskets and other arrangements that looked remarkably like things to be found on Sobeys’ shelves. (There was also a painting of the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson on offer—which likely did not come from Sobeys’ stock—though by halfway through the evening there was not a single bid on it.) The patio, on which many of the items on offer were sitting, looked out on to the course below. More than a few were distracted from bidding by a sunset that screamed across the sky.

As bowls of salad were distributed to the tables, a few speakers took the microphone. The crowd’s clear favourite was Tammy Beddall, a woman with Down Syndrome who announced that she had just turned the “Big Five-Oh” and had been a special athlete for 35 years.

Special Olympics Ontario has nearly 18,000 members, aged eight to 80, and the Welland/Pelham chapter has 273 athletes playing ten different sports.

“I can’t name them all I’m sorry,” Beddall said when expressing her appreciation, the top of her head just reaching the edge of the podium, “But I would like to thank Ron—and myself—for helping to set up.”

The room laughed and applauded, and Beddall returned beaming to her seat, having done her duty, now ready to eat some pasta.

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