The Haliburton Red Wolves are on the prowl this spring, searching for some new athletes to welcome into their pack.

The local Special Olympics group is moving ahead full-throttle into its 2022 season. After two years of pandemic-related restrictions, organizers are excited to open things up again in the coming months.

“Getting back to normal, I think, is a huge thing for us as an organization, but especially so for our athletes,” said Yvette Brauer, program coordinator with the Red Wolves. “We’ve still been able to hold some events, but the introduction of all of the safety measures made it difficult sometimes for our athletes to interact. It will be nice for them to be able to gather with their friends again.”

The group is running five sports this year – curling, bowling, golf, bocce and softball. The curling season ended in March and will start up again in the winter, while bowling runs until the end of May.

Currently, the Red Wolves have 35 registered athletes. Brauer said she’s actively looking for more that are keen on trying some outdoor sports this summer.

Golf has been a Red Wolves staple since 2012, while bocce and softball are newer additions.

“Our outdoor sports are always a ton of fun, and it gives our athletes an opportunity to be active and get outdoors and get some fresh air. Golf has been pretty popular since we launched 10 years ago, and bocce was really great last year. I’ve been telling people, if you like bowling, then you’ll love bocce,” Brauer said.

While most of the sports can operate with minimal participants, softball requires at least 10 players per game.

Most sports are free for registered athletes to play – only bowling carries any sort of fee. Equipment and uniform are typically provided by Special Olympics.

After watching her son, Trevor, thrive while participating in Red Wolves programming over the years, Brauer said she highly recommends anyone in Haliburton County with intellectual or physical disabilities to give it a go.

“It’s just a great atmosphere. Our athletes develop real bonds, real relationships… It’s quite the sight seeing them all get together and having fun,” Brauer said. “The more athletes we have, the more we’re able to do and the more fun everyone has… The isolation we’ve all been through the past couple of years hasn’t been nice for anyone, but especially not for our athletes. They’re just delighted to be around their friends again… Hopefully, this year, our pack can grow and more people can learn about the amazing things Special Olympics has to offer.”

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