Board Members Bringing New Perspective to Special Olympics in Alberta

Over the last 41 years, Special Olympics Alberta has been committed to enriching the lives of Albertans with an intellectual disability through sport.

Making this a reality would not be possible with the support of our volunteers, including the visionaries on our Board of Directors, who are dedicated to building inclusive communities across the province.

Our board members are responsible for defining a clear vision for the organization that is founded in championing the health and social benefits afforded to Albertans with intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics programs.

While the last year has been incredibly challenging, we have some new faces on the board that are excited to bring their knowledge and perspectives to the table to help reignite our movement once it is safe to return to play.

“Sitting on the Special Olympics Alberta volunteer Board of Directors is an incredible responsibility that is critical to the organization’s strength and sustainability,” said Johnny Byrne, Special Olympics Alberta CEO.

“Directors are ultimately accountable for the organization’s viability, with the primary objective to protect and encourage individuals with an intellectual disability. I have tremendous respect for the commitment they make and the critical role they play.”

Walter Brertton is the Manager of Indigenous Engagement with the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and has been involved with Special Olympics for the past few years.

“I WANTED TO BE ABLE TO GIVE BACK AND DEMONSTRATE KINDNESS TO THE ATHLETES AND VOLUNTEERS OF SPECIAL OLYMPICS,” SAID WALTER BRERTTON. “THAT WAS THE STARTING OFF POINT FOR ME, BUT I MUST SAY THAT AFTER SPENDING SOME TIME AT VARIOUS EVENTS, THINGS CHANGED. I QUICKLY REALIZED THAT THE ATHLETES WERE THE ONES GIVING TO ME AND CHANGING MY PERSPECTIVE. ALL THIS TO SAY, THAT I AM EXTREMELY BLESSED TO BE A PART OF SUCH A WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION.”

Walter Brertton

He added that attending events, meeting members, and being part of the Special Olympics experience is something that drives him to stay involved.

During his time on the board, Walter hopes to establish a larger presence in the Indigenous communities of Alberta.

“This has been a wonderful experience,” said Walter. “From the athletes to the staff and many volunteers, I have everyone to be so welcoming and kind.”

Brent Allison is the CEO at Long View Systems and one of our newest board members, having been elected at our 2020 Annual General Meeting.

Volunteering for Brent is a way to be engaged in the community and to use his background to amplify the efforts of each organization he works with.

He is passionate about Special Olympics because of the intersection between family, fun, and the inclusive nature of sport for all. Brent is excited to bring his skillset to the table and one of his main goals is to bring awareness to Special Olympics in the community.

“Love to see larger game-changing community engagement – adopt an athlete or a team to another level,” said Brent.

Caroline Barham was also elected to the Board in 2020, but she has been actively involved with Special Olympics for many years.

She is the President of Kelwhit Enterprises Ltd. and the owner of 10 Tim Hortons locations in Calgary.

Caroline has proudly employed members of the Special Olympics community at her stores and has been actively engaged in the Day of Inclusion every year.

“I like being involved and giving back to the community that has given so much to me. I hope to make a true and meaningful difference,” said Caroline.

Despite the challenges of starting her role amid the pandemic, Caroline has been instrumental in working with the board to help the organization adapt quickly.

“As we come out of the pandemic my hope is that I can help in any way to add to the successful parts of the organization and help rebuild where necessary,” said Caroline.

Special Olympics Alberta is thrilled to have volunteers like Caroline, Brent, and Walter, along with all our current board members, working together to build an inclusive future.

“We have been tremendously fortunate to attract talented individuals who have committed to our movement. I am excited about our current Board, who will be guiding us in rebuilding and reigniting our movement post-pandemic.”

April 18-24 marks National Volunteer Week, and this year we want to emphasize how important our volunteers are to us by spotlighting them throughout the month. Profiles will be released Tuesdays and Thursdays to recognize people who continue to make an impact in the lives of our athletes.