Special Olympics fundraiser couple's way of giving back
The Brandon Sun - 8/28/2018
After seeing the impact that Special Olympics had on her grandsons, Heather Manuliak decided she wanted to do something to help out.
That's why Manuliak, along with her husband Murray, started up the Special Olympics fundraiser barbecue in Brandon five years ago.
"It's very dear to our heart, and this is our way of giving back," Manuliak said.
She was there on Saturday in the Keystone Centre parking lot for barbecue No. 5.
Dozens of hotdog buns sat on the table, ready to be eaten. The hotdogs came with chips and a drink for $5.
Her three grandchildren, Alic, Liam and Marcus, have played everything from 10-pin bowling to floor hockey, Manuliak said. The opportunity to be part of Special Olympics gave them something they could look forward to.
"They finally came to me the other day and said, 'We feel like we belong somewhere because doing the sports with Special Olympics it is competitive, but it's more like family,'" she said.
This year Manuliak hoped to make at least $2,500 at the barbecue to match last year's total, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to help support Special Olympics.
"They (the proceeds) help with intellectual, a lot of team building," she said.
"They learn to work as a team and how to do different activities."
The barbecue fundraiser first started back in 2014 and was a lot smaller than it is now.
"We were over at the theatre and we just popped up a tent and had a regular hotdog barbecue," she said.
On Saturday, there were multiple tents in the parking lot offering face painting as well as a silent auction.
The parking lot was also scattered with about 20 vintage cars -- another component to the fundraiser that has been added over the years.
"We have always loved vintage vehicles, so we were trying to think how we could bring something more out for this," she said.
"I did some research and found out that BASE (Brandon and Area Car Enthusiasts) and Road Rebels love supporting and helping charities, so I just got into contact with them and they were more than happy to come out."
The barbecue usually ends up being one of their major fundraisers, said Special Olympics athlete Harvey Chambers.
"It helps out for when we go on trips like to Nova Scotia, it helps with the fundraising stuff and then we don't have to do so much." Chambers said, who plays on the soccer team. "It's also great way to have lunch."
"We always have great support from the community."
The money raised at the barbecue will help ensure athletes like him can get the best experience possible, so they can continue to enjoy being Special Olympians.
"You get exercise you know, so you don't just go home and sit on the couch," he said. "It's great for participation."
The goal of the barbecue is to raise money, but also to get people talking about Special Olympics and the opportunities that are available for those who live in the area.
"We want to bring awareness to the community because there are a lot of families out there that do not realize that Special Olympics is here," Manuliak said. "You just have to come out and meet us."
» Twitter: @Melverge5