From the river to the mountains, Whitehorse is a picturesque place. However, it’s the people that make Whitehorse truly breathtaking . Beauty is found in Yukoners weaving their unique skills and talents into the tapestry of the north. This is the first in a three part series about three particularly extraordinary women of Whitehorse.
Brettanie Deal-Porter is the program coordinator for Special Olympics Yukon, the Yukon’s branch of an international organization devoted to making sports accessible to individuals with intellectual disabilities. It’s a job that Deal-Porter has great passion for.
Said passion was sparked at the age of 16. She was working at a local pool and was assigned the task of giving one-on-one swimming lessons to a student with a cognitive disability. She loved the work. This love was still present when Deal-Porter poked her head up North and never looked back.
Since falling in love with the North, Deal-Porter has lived in Northwest Territories, Dawson City and, her current base, Whitehorse.
No matter where she lives, Deal-Porter has always energetically immersed herself in the summer sun and winter snow; she is an active person at heart. She played sports in university and loves to spend her free time outside. She hikes in the summers and glides on cross-country skis in the winters. So when the position of program coordinator at Special Olympics Yukon became available, she jumped at it.
Since taking on the role, Deal-Porter has felt countless joyous moments, knowing she’s played a small part in an athlete’s success, such as when they conquer a goal or beat a personal best. It’s a heart-warming experience that Deal-Porter finds difficult to articulate, but she guarantees it’s found amongst all the Special Olympics staff and volunteers.
However, the joy does not come without hard work and dedication. Twenty-four hours isn’t enough time in a day for Deal-Porter, an organizational superhero who coordinates and develops 10 sports programs per season.
Despite the heavy workload, Deal-Porter is proud that the Yukon has shaped a particularly wonderful branch of Special Olympics, thanks to the supportive volunteer base. As if to prove her point, while we were conversing, a gentleman came up to us and inquired if we were talking about Special Olympics. When we confirmed his guess, he offered up praise for the organization.
Deal-Porter smiled and thanked him. “It’s people like him, with passion, excitement, and enthusiasm for their mission, that allows Special Olympics Yukon to do amazing things,” she says. The organization doesn’t just help athletes achieve their goals and develop an active lifestyle; what’s truly amazing is how Special Olympics uses sport as a platform to boost the confidence of their athletes. This is a confidence that transcends into other areas of their lives.
Looking towards the future, Deal-Porter is helping Special Olympics Yukon work towards their continuous goals, which includes supporting athletes to train to compete in the World Games, the highest level of Special Olympics competition; encouraging their athletes to be active for life; and increasing access to Special Olympics for athletes in rural communities.
Looking towards her own future, Deal-Porter would love to stay in Whitehorse and with Special Olympics for as long as possible, as both have cemented a special place in her heart.