The 2018 Motionball Marathon of Sport Fundraiser
Motionball engages young Canadians in a sporting event dedicated to bringing awareness and inclusion to the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. Uniting young professionals and Special Olympics athletes in teamplay, fundraising and lasting friendships.
The foundation of Motionball started with a brotherly meeting between Paul, Mark and Sean Etherington on a sunny day back in 2001. When we asked Paul to tell us what inspired them to create this charitable organization, his answer was simple: “First and foremost it was our parents. My brothers and I, our mentors are our parents. They were involved with Special Olympics for 35 years. They raised tens of millions of dollars for the cause and at an early age they instilled in us the importance of giving back to your community.” As for the second reason, Paul credits a young athlete by the name of Kevin Timberlake, or “the fourth Etherington brother,” for the inspiration behind Motionball. “[Kevin] convinced me to coach for Special Olympics and it was really my first hands-on experience with the athletes … [Kevin] convinced my brothers and I to challenge our generation to launch some sort of event” — and they did just that.
Saturday, May 26, 2018, marked the Toronto Marathon of Sport, which included the attendance of 1,000 young professionals and 120 Special Olympics athletes. “We’re excited because it’s going to be our largest Marathon of Sport, we’re going to have 84 teams, each team will have 10 participants, male and female, and one Special Olympic athlete to each team,” says Paul.
The citywide events organized by Motionball volunteers run coast to coast in 20 cities across Canada. However, the Marathon of Sport continues to expand beyond athletic events with initiatives such as the Motionball University Program, which offers university students the chance to adopt the Marathon of Sport Challenge at their university campuses, currently in 17 universities across Canada.
The Etherington brothers have also initiated the social media campaign #nogoodway which engages Canadians to take the pledge to end the use of the “R-word.” The campaign and education component of the foundation is of great importance to the Motionball mission. “We’re not trying to be word police,” says Paul. “We’re saying to Canadians that they have the choice to stop using the R-word, not because they have to, but because they can.”
There are 900,000 Canadians living with an intellectual disability, and use of the R-word has become a form of bullying. On Saturday, May 26, 1,000 young professionals alongside 120 Special Olympics athletes took the pledge to not use the word. “It’s something that we’re really proud of,” says Paul.
To date, the foundation has raised $9.6 million for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. “On Saturday we have a chance to raise $400,000 that would take us to the $10 million donation mark,” says Paul excitedly. By mid-day during the event they had reached this goal, breaking $10 million net for the foundation. The event, which has been known to create teamwork, collaboration and lasting friendships, is set to continue its positive influence in a city near you.