Athletes and volunteers recognized at the Ontario ParaSport® Winter Games

Toronto, ON — Each year, ParaSport Ontario presents annual awards to recognize the outstanding achievements of ParaSport athletes and volunteers.  This year, ParaSport Ontario officially announced the winners of the 2009 ParaSport Ontario Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Coach of the Year and Ron Foster recipient at the Ontario ParaSport Winter Games in Kingston.

The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and ParaSport Ontario VP of Marketing and Fundraising Brian McLean assisted with the presentation of these Annual Awards at the VIP Reception on January 22nd. Ed Richardson was presented with ParaSport Ontario Coach of the Year.  Ed who was nominated by the Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sports Association is a Boccia Coach with the Cruisers Multi-Sport club located in Brampton. He is the Head Coach of Team Ontario and also the Assistant Coach of Team Canada.  His commitment to the sport of Boccia is unparalleled.  When not at his local club’s practice he can be found coaching various athletes on the Provincial or National teams to help them develop into first class athletes and role models for younger players.

The next award presented was ParaSport Ontario Male Athlete of the Year which went to Abdi Fatah Dini, a wheelchair basketball player, nominated by the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association.   Abdi worked his way through the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association’s wheelchair basketball program, and is now a member of the Canadian Senior Men’s team.  In 2009, Abdi was nominated to tournament all star teams twice, and finished first in a free throw accuracy competition at the 2009 America’s cup shooting a perfect 6 for 6!  Abdi was a proud member of Team Canada bringing back a silver medal from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.  Originally from Somalia, Abdi is truly an outstanding and inspirational athlete whose qualities of fair play and dedication to excellence are exemplified in everything he does.

ParaSport Ontario Female Athlete of the Year went to Wheelchair Rugby player, Erika Schmutz who was nominated by the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association.  Erika is an all around athlete who started in swimming then qualified for the Paralympic Games in Athens in wheelchair fencing before focusing on wheelchair rugby.  She is one of the very few females who compete at the international level.  She is fiercely competitive and dedicated to the sport.  She has been a member of National team since 2005 and represented Canada at the Paralympic Games in Beijing bringing home a bronze medal. When she’s not training or competing, Erika can be found coaching a Toronto Team or introducing the sport to others as an Ambassador through the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association’s Bridging the Gap program or ParaSport Ontario’s Ready Wiling and Able Program.

Presented with the Ron Foster Award, a prestigious volunteer award presented to those who have volunteered for minimum of 10 years, was Frank Peter Sr. of the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association.Frank has been actively involved in wheelchair tennis and the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association for over 20 years. He is an avid tennis player and golfer who has dedicated countless hours to volunteering to develop and promote wheelchair tennis locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. He has held various positions on the Ontario Wheelchair Sports association’s Board of Directors such as Vice-President and Sport Director for Wheelchair Tennis.  For the past 10 years, he has served as Chair of the Ontario and Canadian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships and has assisted with many Development Camps in the Hamilton area.  Frank has been the Sport Technical Director – Wheelchair Tennis at ParaSportOntario Summer Games, he was twice Past President of the Stoney Creek Tennis Club and is   currently the Wheelchair Tennis Sport Director on the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association Board of Directors as well as a Director on the Wheelchair Tennis Advisory Committee at Tennis Canada. Annually, he enjoys providing wheelchair tennis lessons to children at Easter Seals Camps in Ontario. Frank’s passion and dedication for tennis and specifically wheelchair tennis has been instrumental in the development of a strong wheelchair tennis program from grassroots to National level athletes in Ontario.  Congratulations to all of this year’s ParaSport Ontario Annual Award recipients.

Other awards presented at the ParaSport Winter Games in Kingston included: the Shoppers Home Health Care Awards of Merit which went to: Kevin Wakeling of the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association for Wheelchair Basketball, Reid Mulligan of the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association for Wheelchair Rugby, Chester Draper of the Ontario Curling Council, Nik Tolygesi of Swim Ontario, Jordan Mino of the Ontario Sledge Hockey Association, and Tracy Schmitt of the Ontario Disabled Alpine Race Team.The Bob Secord Award (an overall Games Award) went to Nik Tolgyesi of Swim Ontario who swam personal bests in 100% of his races winning multiple medals including 4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze.

The Kingston ParaSport Winter Games Organizing Committee Chair, John Munro was presented with a Hosting Award in dedication for the countless hours he and his Organizing Committee put in to ensure everything was perfect for the Games participants.  Over 300 volunteers were involved in the organization of these Games which were a huge success.

Congratulations to all Award recipients and to the City of Kingston for hosting a spectacular 2010 Ontario ParaSport Winter Games.