“Motionball is a not-for-profit organization that builds awareness and raises funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation (SOCF), targeting a “next generation” of supporters – Canada’s professional crowd who are not defined by their age but rather their mind-set.”

Motionball I have so many amazing memories from my participation in Motionball 2013 this past summer it’s impossible to choose just one! I am so thankful Mitch Krystantos from LasVegas Connexx invited me to join his team to support the Special Olympics. It was an honor to have had Special Olympics athlete Chris Sinden with us giving his all and sharing his enthusiasm with everyone. We also had Degrassi superstar Luke Bylik and his sister Christina on our team along with our other super star team mates, all in their own right.

IMG_6582The miraculous things we discovered and events that went on between the players, team mates and supportive family members are memories we will share forever. We even had a very important, serious and surprising discovery we learned about one of our players, which led to a positive outcome. Let’s just say we were truly at the right place, at the right time. The saying “Things happen for a reason” is totally applicable in this circumstance.

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The opening ceremonies of Motionball really moved me as I watched all the athletes enter the main hall with everyone on their feet applauding these Special Olympians. Suddenly I was filled with so much pride and felt immense gratitude to witness the tremendous respect given to these athletes. Despite any physical or mental “perceived” handicap, each person held their heads high and really owned the room; this event was theirs and we were just the guest players.

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I made several new friends that day and two very special ones whom I have continued to stay in touch with. Somehow I’ve taken on a mentor-ship role to an inspired teenager and to the other, a new friend. Motionball brought us together in the same place for a reason. My new friend is also a gold medal Special Olympics athlete Jason Scorch. We chat on Facebook, we share the occasional weekly chat  and update about some of our day-to-day events. Just the other day he asked if I would be his courtesy sister :)

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Jason gave an incredible speech at Motionball about some of his painful memories of his childhood and how kids would call him the ‘R” word. My second favorite memory was writing the 6 letter word starting with R – x – x – x – x- and ending in D on a yellow piece of paper and then ripping it up an as many pieces as possible to abolish this word from our vocabulary. Who knew this word could cause so much negativity, pain and hurt to the ears of the person affected by it. I am instantly offended by the use of this word, every time I hear it now.

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Brittany Krystantos is Mitch’s youngest daughter who also has a heart of gold and many gifts. Among them is her wish to inspire other teenagers and she had written an incredible blog contribution to share her story. I posted this on my blog and it was shared over 1600 times socially. Motionball is where we started our friendship with her and my daughter who is the same age. Motionball turned out to be a huge family affair and a place where meaningful friendships were formed.

I wrote this post after seeing a posting on Paul Etherington’s Facebook wall as a chance to win 2 VIP tickets to the 13th annual motionball Toronto gala valued at $700.00. Although it would be fantastic to win, this post was long overdue!

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I’ve already won if you ask me, with all the amazing take-aways from the event.  The coolest thing about winning is the opportunity to share this experience with someone new and give them the chance to meet the people responsible for making dreams come true for so many athletes out there, including their friends and family.

Either way, I am so looking forward to my FIRST Gala and my SECOND Motionball in 2014 :)

With love and gratitude,

Carmelia Ray