Bradford resident Monique Shah was awarded a Certificate of Recognition Friday morning on behalf of local MP Scot Davidson, Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, and BWG Councillor Raj Sandhu, celebrating her 23-year involvement with the Special Olympics and being crowned Special Olympics Canada’s 2020 Athlete of the Year.
MP Davidson, BWG Mayor Keffer and Councillor Sandhu surprised Shah on her front porch with certificates to honour the athlete for all her achievements, including being featured on the Special Olympics Canada website for Black History Month.
“She is such a big deal in York-Simcoe,” praises MP Davidson. “On behalf of the Government of Canada and all the residents of York-Simcoe, I offer my congratulations to you on being awarded the Special Olympics Athlete of the Year! Your long-time dedication to training and sport, and your volunteer efforts with the Special Olympics Community for the past 23 years is to be commended. Congratulations on your exceptional achievement in becoming one of Canada’s Special Olympics Athlete of the Year… you are truly a worthy recipient of this honour and I offer my best wishes to you in your future.”
MP Davidson also presented Shah with a giant Canada flag as a gift and symbol of her representation of the country in the Special Olympics, as well to honour her dedication to the Special Olympics and her commitment to her volunteer work within the community of Bradford and surrounding area.
When Shah was just a tot, her parents (June and O’Keefe) were given the news she had brain damage and would never be able to walk or talk. But Shah defied all statistics by leaps and bounds (literally).
Now, at age 40, Shah has spent many years participating in several sports at the Olympic level such as soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, bowling, bocce, curling, and her favourites, track & field and snowshoeing – all while representing the Black community and advocating for inclusion and diversity.
Shah has won numerous gold medals and has had the opportunity to travel around the world including representing Team U.S.A. at the Special Olympics World Games in Ireland. (Pre-Covid) she was a full-time volunteer at the Bradford Valley Care Community long-term care facility.
Over 25 special athletes supported Shah’s award presentation on Friday morning via Zoom on behalf of motionball; a charitable organization founded by the Etherington brothers – Mark, Sean, and Paul – that specifically raises funds nationally for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation every year.
The Etherington’s were live on the Zoom call with the other athletes who cheered in celebration during Shah’s award ceremony. Following the awards presentation was a Zoom ‘dance party’ with the athletes to celebrate.
“Way to go Monique!” shares Paul Etherington, Founder of motionball.
“We’re very, very proud of Monique,” expresses Mayor Keffer. “She put Bradford on the map! [You] continue to amaze us with your dedication and advocacy for inclusion and diversity in sports. You are a respected and valued member of the BWG community, and we want to congratulate you on the longevity of your fine work.”
“We’re so proud of Monique!” adds Coun. Sandhu. “She’s not only a role model for us, she’s a role model for many. We’re so happy for her, rooting and cheering for her!”
Monique continues to be a role model for the younger generation in the community and all of Ontario, and is hoping to compete in next year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in Russia.
To learn more about Monique Shah’s story, visit: Monique Shah: Bradford's Special Olympic Athlete of the Year on diversity, inclusion in sports (5 photos) - BradfordToday.ca