Last Friday evening the 13th annual Toronto motionball Gala took place at the opulent Liberty Grand. A national non-profit organization, motionball raises funds and awareness for Special Olympics Canada. This year’s event, ThreeSixtyFive, brought together over 2,100 celebrities, young professionals and Special Olympics athletes for a night of music, dance, and support for a tremendous cause.
Celebrity co-host, Carmen Electra kicked off the evening as a collection of gowned and gorgeous ladies and sharp dressed lads strutted through the four seasons-themed rooms. It was not simply a night to mingle, but one to marvel at the traction that the Special Olympics have received in recent years.
Currently 36,739 children, youth and adults are registered in Special Olympics programs across the globe and the number is constantly rising. According to the Special Olympics Canada website, more than 50% of Special Olympics athletes work – 5 times more than adults with an intellectual disability not enrolled in Special Olympics programs. With positively staggering numbers like these, it was inspirational to see the turnout of so many dedicated athletes and contributory Torontonians.
The men behind motionball are brothers Mark, Sean and Paul Etherington. The three have been working with Special Olympics initiatives since childhood. The Sports Celebrities Festival was founded by the Etherington’s parents and has raised over $25 million for Special Olympics Canada since 1983.
motionball came to life in 2001, when the brothers noticed that there was a lack of integration between the Special Olympics athletes and their supporters. Over the course of a given year more than 6,000 supporters and Special Olympics athletes participate in 15 events in Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Saskatoon.
High-profile entertainers like Carmen Electra and DJ Skratch Bastid heated up the stage in the Ice Room, and live performances by Enriquez and Running Red Lights brought the light to the Autumn Room. The collection of athletes and contributors was commendable, and the camaraderie amongst attendees was palpable.
As this year’s Toronto event exemplified, motionball encourages Canadians to assemble and show their collective support for the long-term stability and success of the Special Olympics in Canada.