Sydney, Australia, 31 OCTOBER 2023: Special Olympics Australia celebrated its athletes and started fundraising for the 2027 World Games at its annual Gala Dinner, which took place Saturday 21 October 2023 for the first time after a three-year hiatus during COVID.
To help celebrate athletes’ achievements and encourage more people living with an intellectual disability or autism to take up sports, the charity hosted a glamorous fundraising gala at Luna Park Sydney. Hosted by renowned journalist and Nine News presenter, Peter Overton AM, with the support of Aussie icon and comedian Peter Rowsthorn, the evening put a spotlight on the incredible athletes results and the community support.
During the night, Special Olympics Australia revealed their first Champions of Inclusion Awards. The award recognises companies and individuals that have shown a genuine commitment to inclusion and supporting people with intellectual disability and autism to lead a full and inclusive life.
Metcash, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Deloitte and host Peter Overton AM took home the awards, presented by Special Olympics World Games athletes Lisa Weingartner, Bray Aquino, Chris Bunton and Michael Wheatley.
“I’m proud to have represented Australia at the World Games in Berlin and I loved being part of a fun night that celebrated our achievements. The support we get helps us reach for the stars and makes our dreams come true,” said Chris Bunton, who won three gold and four silver medals in gymnastics at the Special Olympics Berlin World Games 2023.
Chris is part of the team of 64 Australian athletes with an intellectual disability or autism who represented Australia at the Berlin World Games, bringing home a total of 63 medals. With sights now set on training and preparing for the 2027 World Games, Special Olympics Australia continues its fundraising efforts with community sporting events across the country.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support of our corporate partners, athletes, their families and communities in helping us raise funds on this night to ensure Special Olympics Australia can continue to provide sports training and competition for people across Australia with intellectual disability and autism in communities and schools across Australia.
“It was an evening of celebration, laughter, and inspiration as well as a fantastic opportunity to recognise the wonderful achievements of our athletes. We are very much looking forward to hosting more events that will help ensure we can continue this important work." said Pierre Comis, Chief Executive Officer at Special Olympics Australia.
For those wanting to attend the events or support Special Olympics on its mission, visit www.specialolympics.com.au.
About Special Olympics
The Special Olympics began in Australia in 1976 when many people with an intellectual disability were shut in institutions. While this is no longer the norm in Australia, we continue to seek public support to ensure that people with an intellectual disability are not shut out. By helping us give them opportunities to play sport, together we can open the door to personal achievement, pride and inclusion for some of the marginalised and isolated members of our community.
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