He is going from produce to hopes of producing a gold medal during the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games July 31-Aug. 4 in Antigonish, N.S.
Mark Peddle, a veteran of the games, will represent Newfoundland and Labrador as a member of the soccer team. He is one of 40 athletes and 21 coaches from this province who will compete in the event.
Peddle works in the produce department at Sobeys in Mount Pearl (since 2009) when he is not preparing for his athletic endeavours.
His jovial demeanor and big, cheesy grin are the first things you notice about him as he scurries about his duties, but also the way he handled the interview, with humour and confidence.
“I am looking forward to going back to Antigonish again. I was there last year for provincials and we finished second,” Peddle said, noting he has his sights set on one place higher this time around.
“Once we get there, I will be put at the level I will play at. Hopefully that is Level A.”
Peddle is a defender (fullback) on the soccer club and he says he is “tough to get around.”
The affable young man, the son of Heather and Paul Peddle of Mount Pearl and a brother to Laura, has a storied career to date.
The accolades and accomplishments that have come his way since he first decided to compete in 2008 are amazing.
He won gold in floor hockey in 2008 in Quebec City and switched his skills to soccer for London in 2010. He went to St. Albert, Alta., for floor hockey in 2012, grabbed a silver medal for soccer in Vancouver in 2014, was part of Team N.L. that was chosen as team of the year in 2015 and attended the awards banquet in Toronto that year. The team was also chosen as the Mount Pearl Sports Alliance team of the year in 2015.
“I did a speech in Toronto that year with TSN’s Vic Rauter,” he said.
That speech and his interaction with Rauter paid dividends and made a lasting impression, as he was chosen to co-host the national awards banquet in 2016, again with Rauter, a strong supporter of Special Olympics.
Peddle was chosen to participate in a public speaking skills program in 2014 and attended the course in Prince Edward Island. The skills he got there, his personality and his self-confidence made him the perfect choice for the co-hosting gig and also to be part of an advertising campaign promoting the Special Olympics.
There are print ads and a video being shown prior to the national event.
The ad shows Peddle standing with his foot on a soccer ball in an indoor soccer facility with the caption, “They said I would never make the team, they never said anything about leading one.”
He was also extremely close to being chosen as the Global Messenger. He said he got close, but didn’t make it.
“It was OK,” he laughed. “I could always be a politician.”
In addition to setting out to win a gold medal, Peddle is looking forward to a trip he and his father are taking later this year that ties in with his favourite hobby — collecting vinyl.
“My job has been great, and it helped me to save enough money for me and my dad to go to see ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) in Toronto,” he said.
“I really like them. I think my favourite songs are either ‘Telephone Line’ or ‘Hold On Tight.’”
Both of these songs are on his more than 1,200 albums — vintage vinyl — that he has been collecting for years. In addition, he says Frank Zappa is one of his favourite artists.
But for now, his focus is on the end of the month and the experience he is going to have.
“Getting to go to Antigonish with my friends and have fun, getting to compete, is great,” Peddle said.
“There are lots of things for us to do when we are not competing.”
50 years of changing lives
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics, a movement founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968 when the event was hosted on Soldier Field in Chicago.
That initial competition was inspired by discoveries made in the 1960s by Canadian researcher Dr. Frank Hayden, a sport scientist at the University of Toronto.
Hayden’s research challenged the mindset of that time, which was that intellectual disabilities prevented children from fully participating in recreation.
What his research found was that people with intellectual disabilities simply weren’t given the same opportunities to participate, and when given the chance, sports could have a major positive impact on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Marking the tremendous achievements of the now more than five million athletes in 172 countries worldwide will be the theme of the Global Day of Inclusion scheduled for July 21.
“This will be an opportunity to celebrate what our athletes have achieved, but also the critical role they have played in our countries,” Special Olympics CEO Sharon Bollenbach said.
“This will be a chance for us to be better aware of their athletic abilities and also the impact they have made off the field. Our hope is we can all work towards a more inclusive Canada through this awareness.”
Bollenbach said the day will focus on a number of key points, including encouraging people to get involved in Special Olympic programs across the country.
In addition, all Canadians are asked to come out to their respective Tim Hortons locations and take part in special activities that will take place on July 21.
“We also want people to use their social media to highlight the activities and post it to #choosetoinclude,” Bollenbach said.
“There are also a host of landmarks and buildings who are going to light up either red or white for the Global Day of Inclusion. We encourage you to snap a photo of that and post it to social media as well.”
Bollenbach said the Special Olympics and society in general have evolved greatly over the 50 years of the programs being offered across Canada and around the world.
People with intellectual disabilities were marginalized and hidden from the public in those days. The Special Olympics changed all that, as the individuals were treated as athletes, given a chance to participate on a grander stage and scale … and given a chance to succeed.
“The focus is on ability and what they athletes can do and not what they can’t,” Bollebach said.
“Sports is transformational for them and it enriches their lives. That is what we are all about at Special Olympics.”
The Special Olympics Canada Summer Games is a national sporting event for competitive athletes with intellectual disabilities.
There are approximately 45,000 registered athletes in Canada this year participating in 3,200 sports programs across the 18 sports. In addition, there are more than 21,000 volunteers helping to run these programs.
“There are now more athletes out there working, being spokespeople and sitting on boards. They are leading the dialogue and changes as to how we run our organization,” Bollenbach said.
Each athlete must qualify at the local and provincial level before going to the national games. The Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games is also a qualifying event for athletes to represent Canada at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
There are nine sports featured at the games: athletics, basketball, bocce, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, powerlifting, soccer, softball and swimming.
More than 900 athletes, 290 coaches, officials and mission staff and 600 volunteers are expected to participate, in addition to more than 3,000 spectators.
With files from Juanita Mercer
Athletes heading to N.S. (name, club)
Lucas Antle, Burin Peninsula North Bears
Sarah Bursey, Gander Wings
Taylor Hann, Placentia Lions
Floressa Harris, Gander Wings
Michael Harris, Gander Wings
Peter Hynes, Placentia Lions
Robert Moore, Tri-Con Gentle Giants
Tony Moores, Grand Bank-Fortune
Mary Ellen Murphy, Tri-Con Gentle Giants
Bradley Murphy, Mount Pearl
Johnny Philpott, Gander Wings
Samantha Walsh, Bay St. George
Crystal Young, Tri-Con Gentle Giants
Sarah Brown, Gander Wings
Ryan Drover, Mount Pearl
Joshua Gardner, Exploits Hurricanes
Tyler Oliver, Tri-Con Gentle Giants
Thomas Pelley, St. John’s
Zack Dean, CBS Bright stars
Mary Head, Gander Wings
Brianna Stansbury, CBS Bright stars
Kristen Tibbo, CBS Bright stars
Nick Chafe, Clarenville Allstars
Daniel Moores, Corner Brook Vikings
Megan Hounsell, Mount Pearl
Ava Walsh, Mount Pearl
Nadia Brenton, Mount Pearl
Dean Cantwell, Mount Pearl
Shaughn Connors, Mount Pearl
Andrew Hynes, Mount Pearl
Eddie Hynes, Mount Pearl
Matthew Martin, Mount Pearl
Mike Mullaly, St. John’s
Mark Peddle, Mount Pearl
Jason Roche, Mount Pearl
Nick Styles, Mount Pearl
David Wells, Mount Pearl
Lyle Woodrow, Mount Pearl