The Little Town That Could

Posted on August 7, 2018 under Storytelling with 4 comments

Team Manitoba appreciated Antigonish. Very classy.


“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

The Little Engine That Could. Platt and Munk

Most of us are familiar with these lines from that wonderful childhood story. The Little Engine That Could teaches children the value of optimism and hard work. But the lesson is not restricted to children. Very often, individuals and communities never stretch the boundaries for what is possible.

But some are willing to take risks and the rewards can last a long time.

It is a testament to Antigonish Town and County and St.F.X University that the head honchos at Special Olympics Canada made the bold decision to have a small town host their national competition. And not just any competition.  2018 represents the 50th anniversary of the first Special Olympics held in Canada.

True. Antigonish has hosted national competitions before but not on such a large scale with so many athletes and so many different sports. It is a testament to the leadership of the three partners (Town/County/St.F.X.) that first rate infrastructure made these games even possible. You can’t host big time events without proper facilities. None of us should lose sight that individual donors and all levels of government over the years helped put these facilities in place.

There’s always a high risk of naming names when passing out kudos but I don’t think anyone could argue that the leadership of Carl “Val” Chisholm and Marc Champoux was instrumental. Both are successful business people, community leaders and guys who know a thing or two about sports. They put together a superb cast of characters on the Games Organizing committee. They surrounded themselves with “can do” people.

Much has been said about the volunteer effort. Over 1200 people from Antigonish and beyond rolled up their sleeves and did what needed to be done. No task was too menial and no call for help went unanswered. I know of one person who used a week of his vacation to volunteer and gave 14 hours each and every day. Working people helped when their schedules permitted. Young and old from every walk of life pitched in. It was thrilling to see Coady students get involved. Their spirit was infectious.

Antigonish is known as a hotbed for music, art and culture and all three were in abundance especially during the opening and closing ceremonies where we showed Canada who we are and what makes us tick.

From all accounts, Antigonish delivered the goods. The games went off without a hitch and the comments from athletes, coaches and family members who traveled to Nova Scotia affirmed this. People raved about the hospitality shown at the venues and everywhere they went in the community.

Antigonish climbed the mountain knowing that it was possible for a small town to host a national competition. It reached the top of the hill.

“I (we) thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”




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4 Responses to The Little Town That Could

  1. Elaine Bowie says:

    Being a volunteer this past week has been the MOST enjoyable, rewarding, eye opening experience I have ever had. The National Special Olympics wonderfully hosted by the County & Town of Antigonish & St. FXU, was SO worth getting up at 5 every morning. The witness of the relationship between coaches and athletes, the discipline, the respect, and the tough love was phenomenal. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.

  2. As St. Francis Xavier University alumnus the Hon. Frank McKenna has often stated, “StFX has a history of punching above its weight class.” We knew we could successfully host these games with our wonderful partners (the Town & County of Antigonish). However it was the courage and bision of the Boards of the National Special Olympics & Nova Scotia Special Olympics in allowing our bid to stand. For that, we have been blessed as a university community.

    Hail & Health.

    Dr. Kent MacDonald
    St. Francis Xavier University.

  3. Stephen White says:

    When I heard the National games were coming to Antigonish I knew I had to be apart of it some how. When I got the notice I was accepted as a volunteer I was happy to roll up my sleeves and pitch in where ever I could. Nothing prepared me for the pure joy I felt every day I was there. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and everyone was so grateful to us for hosting this wonderful event. I never in my life received so many high fives, hugs, handshakes and thank yous I I will never forget the feelings I had, and wish it didn’t have to end. Great job Antigonish, town and county and St fx.

  4. Cyndi Price says:

    Thanks to all of you for taking on this task and doing such an amazing job. I coached the soccer squad from Manitoba and I want to again say a huge thank you to everyone. We had the best time of our lives in Antigonish. The athletes felt so included in your community. Well done everyone! Thanks from Brandon, Manitoba!

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