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Peter Overton’s plea to save the Special Olympics from COVID-19

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“He’s a very good mate of mine, and I love him. He’s so good to me. He said he’s going to take me to the Logies,” she said.

Ms Eustace competes in a variety of Special Olympics sports, including softball, swimming, bowling – but her passion is dancing. Like for so many others, training and playing with her friends provides her with a structure, routine and genuine sense of community.

But COVID-19 hit the Special Olympics especially hard: events have been called off, the usual fundraising drives haven’t been possible and their reliance on government grants could be under threat because of the pandemic’s wider economic impact. At a personal level, it has been devastating.

“You take that away and it’s a huge blow to their daily lives,” Mr Overton said.

While Ms Eustace and her friends have tried to stay in touch through social media and rehearsing their dance routines via Zoom, it’s not quite the same.

To get them all back out onto the field, Special Olympics Australia has partnered with IGA this month through their Community Chest in-store program. Mr Overton is appealing for all Australians to consider chipping in if they can as part of Global Inclusion Week.

Nine presenter Peter Overton with Mel Eustace.

Nine presenter Peter Overton with Mel Eustace.Credit:James Brickwood

“They are pretty much self-funded, the office runs on a very tight ship,” he said.

“People are struggling in every way shape and form – it’s not just Special Olympics. But just have a think about it, the role it plays, and if there’s a spare $10 or $20 – it all adds up. Every dollar counts.”

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