Star athletes go back in time to raise money for next generation of athletes

Calgary is a city built around sports, and its citizens take pride in having world-class facilities to help their homegrown talent. Not only does it require countless hours of training, hard work, and determination to excel in sport, but support from the community is also crucial.

Gymnast Kyle Shewfelt, a 2004 gold medalist, says it is important to give back to support the next wave of world-class athletes, something the WinSport Legacy Gala accomplished with a 1980s flair on Thursday, Sept. 25.

“It’s extremely important to contribute to the next generation,” Shewfelt said.

Not only was he there to show his support but he also but appeared to have a blast while rocking a platinum blonde wig and gold spandex. The WinSport Legacy Gala helps support extra training as well as travel expenses.

“Many of the athletes here tonight have benefited from the great support that Calgary has,” Shewfelt said. “Allowing our athletes to compete along with the best in the world is what helps them get to the next level.”

Kaillie Humphries is the reigning Olympic champion for two-women bobsleigh and is among hundreds of athletes currently reaping the benefits from training in Calgary.Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kaillie Humphries dresses up in her best ’80s attire during the WinSport Legacy Gala. Humphries says she realizes how important it is to give back to younger athletes.

Photo by Sarah Harrower

Humphries said: “This is something that is critical for us as athletes having the facilities and the institute (WinSport) for us to train. This is something world-leading, this is what is going to take Canada over the edge in all sports. That’s why there are so many athletes here tonight. We want to make sure this stays here and help the next generation to come.”

Event organizer Catriona Le May Doan, an Olympic gold medal speedskater, remembers how difficult it was for her in the beginning of her athletic career.

“When I started I didn’t have anything like this; I had to rely on the support of my family and my community,” Le May Doan said. “So I made sure that when I retired I was going to do something to give back to help the dreams of our young athletes and future Olympians.”

Le May Doan was smiling as she talked dressed head-to-toe in neon accented by leg warmers.

Fellow organizer Dale Oviatt, director of communications for WinSport and committee member for organizing the Legacy Gala, noted the event was for younger potential stars rather than the current Canadians excelling around the world.

“A lot of the time there is focus on current athletes, but there needs to be something to put the focus on the up-and-coming athletes who need the financial support,” Oviatt said. “With Win-Sport being one of the main legacy facilities, we wanted to team up with the oval and WinSport Canmore. We are looking forward to having an even bigger event next year.”

There were many exciting parts during the evening, like when the event patrons dressed in their colourful duds, took part in a live auction and enjoyed musical blasts from the past provided by memorable ’80s bands such as Berlin and Men Without Hats.

The event raised nearly $120,000.

sharrower@cjournal.ca