BENDIGO’s Special Olympics swim team has been inundated with support and is on track to have a full team representing the region at next month’s summer games.
A $4000 donation from St John of God Hospital yesterday capped off a sequence of sponsorships and offers of assistance.
The funds were raised by the St John of God volunteers Christmas raffle last year.
Chief executive Darren Rogers said there was huge support for the team within the hospital and that he was glad the fund-raiser would benefit such a worthwhile group.
“We’re really passionate about disability access and inclusion,” he said. “I think the team has made a fantastic effort in the past and will continue to demonstrate the importance of teamwork and commitment.”
Head coach Michele Bearryman-Cooper said the support was unbelievable. She said the donation from St John of God was the biggest the team had ever received and it would help buy team uniforms and new equipment.
“The team has just been blown away,” she said. “Two of the athletes were just in tears when they found out.”
A donation to pay for Bendigo Barracudas-branded swimmers was offered this week by Care Beyond Measure, and Bendigo Regional YMCA will provide buses to get the team to and from the Olympics event in Melbourne, as well as new drink bottles and goggles.
Ms Bearryman-Cooper said she had also received a number of
anonymous emails offering financial assistance.
“It’s been wonderful, the support has just been great,” she said.
“It opens up so many more opportunities for the athletes. Not only is it financial support but it’s also people acknowledging the athletes and it gets them interested and asking questions.”
The Golden Vine Hotel will donate all funds raised from its trivia nights over the next month and Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre has offered the team free access to a lane for training in the lead-up to the state summer Olympic games.
Ms Bearryman-Cooper said the team would be ramping up training over the coming weeks, with all athletes confirmed to attend the games starting on March 23.