Coordinator of Manitoulin Special Olympics receives Rotary Club award

Joellen Sloss, left, president of the Gore Bay Rotary Club presents a Paul Harris Fellow Award to Janet Anning, coordinator and coach of the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO). The award was presented during the annual Bluegrass in the Country event held in Providence Bay last weekend.

PROVIDENCE BAY—The president of the Gore Bay Rotary Club took the opportunity at the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) Bluegrass in the Country Music Festival fundraiser to bestow a prestigious award on the MSO coordinator and coach for Manitoulin this past Saturday afternoon.

Joellen Sloss of the Rotary Club presented a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award to Janet Anning. “Good afternoon: I apologize for interrupting your program and I promise I will only be a couple minutes,” she told the large gathering at the bluegrass event.

“My name is Joellen Sloss and I am here today representing the Gore Bay Rotary Club. Our club attempts to recognize individuals in our community who demonstrate a substantial contribution to humanitarian and educational programs.”

“Events such as this require many volunteers to be successful and all the volunteers here today should be recognized for their efforts. The proceeds of this event go to the Manitoulin Special Olympics program, which was reinstated on Manitoulin approximately 10 years ago,” said Ms. Sloss.

Ms. Sloss explained, “in this 10-year period our athletes have trained hard and competed provincially, nationally, and world-wide in numerous sports. They have represented our community and have returned home with many medals from these competitions. This opportunity would not be available to our athletes if it wasn’t for our dedicated coaches and volunteers, and for that we thank you. Although Manitoulin is blessed to have so many dedicated coaches and volunteers, there is one individual who stands out.”

“The award I am about to present is the Paul Harris Fellow Award,” said Ms. Sloss. “Paul Harris founded Rotary International in 1905, and an award was established in his name, which is presented to individuals who demonstrate service above self-their life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objectives of Rotary International.”

“I am very honoured to present this award to a very deserving individual-a dedicated coach, a very dedicated volunteer, and a very selfless individual, a person instrumental in reinstating our Special Olympics program, as well as a good friend-the face of Manitoulin Special Olympics-Janet Anning. Please join me in acknowledging the efforts this individual has put forth,” added Ms. Sloss.

John Featherstone, coordinator-organizer of the Bluegrass in the Country event held in Providence Bay this past weekend said, “without Janet Anning there wouldn’t be a Manitoulin Special Olympics. And if there was no MSO, we wouldn’t be here.”

The award was presented on Saturday afternoon as part of the three-day bluegrass music extravaganza. Again there were huge crowds in attendance throughout the weekend.

And the music was incredible, with the Friday night performers including SweetGrass, award winning performer Marie Bottrell, and the always popular Canucky Bluegrass Boys.

“I would like to thank you for inviting me here this evening,” said Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. “It seems like this event is growing every year, with more people in attendance and a lot more trailers on hand which indicates more people are making this an entire weekend event get away.”

“I would like to commend the organizers, volunteers, those at kiosks and vendors here as well,” said Ms. Hughes.

“I congratulate the organizers of the Bluegrass in the Country event, and everything that you are doing to support Manitoulin Special Olympics,” continued Ms. Hughes. “Proceeds raised from this weekend go to the MSO program.”

“We have amazing Special Olympic athletes on Manitoulin Island and around the riding,” stated Ms. Hughes. “These athletes are very special to all of us and they make us very proud.”

Mr. Featherstone told the crowd Friday evening, “all these guys (musicians) are really helping MSO. And I would like to thank Glen McDougall for all his work in putting all of this together, getting the bands together and setting times for their rehearsal.”

“We are so honoured to have performers like award winning Marie Bottrell here this weekend,” said Mr. Featherstone. “Some of you may remember Marie from a show she did in Gore Bay a few years ago-a tribute show to Patsy Cline.”

Ms. Anning welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the organizers, volunteers, performers and the crowd for supporting MSO and the event. Throughout the weekend she introduced many of the MSO athletes and noted their accomplishments in the past year.

On Saturday, the excellent music continued with the Nelson Family, SweetGrass, Jim Beech and Ben Lentir, Rhyme N’ Reason, Robbie Shawana, Marie Bottrell, The Abrams, and the Canucky Bluegrass Boys. An open jam session was held later that night in the Providence Bay arena.

On Sunday morning, the Nelson Family and Rhyme N’ Reason took to the stage.

Mr. Featherstone noted that it was fantastic weekend and that along with good weather, there were more people in attendance and more trailers on hand than ever before. And the musicians were tremendous, he said. 

The event is a main fundraiser for MSO, having started in 2010. This year people from across Ontario attended including those from Ottawa, Milton, St. Joseph’s Island, and the London area.