Dianne Davis was recently named Woman of the Year for the Port Macquarie electorate by Local MP Leslie Williams.
Dianne has been a member of the Special Olympics Mid North Coast Branch for over nine years and is currently Chairperson of the group.
Dianne is also current coach of the local Special Olympics basketball team and has previously coached one of the NSW Special Olympics basketball teams at national level.
As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, Dianne is always championing people with a disability and is constantly looking for ways to promote the abilities of local athletes. We chatted to Dianne to congratulate her on the award and her work with the organisation.
Dianne, how long have you lived in Port Macquarie?
For 25 years; I’ve been coming here for 50.
When did you first become involved in the Special Olympics, and why?
Around 11 years ago. I have a daughter with a disability, and getting into mainstream sport was a bit hard. I found Special Olympics was ideal.
What’s your role with the Special Olympics Committee here in Port Macquarie?
I’m the Chair of the Special Olympics. I started out as a volunteer and got on the committee; someone didn’t want to be the Chair anymore, so I put my hand up.
What sort of things do you do in your role as the Chair, and what do the Special Olympics do here on the Mid North Coast?
The Special Olympics Mid North Coast is run from Forster all the way up to Kempsey and out to Wauchope. We have 55 athletes we have to coordinate with all different sports, which include 10 pin bowling, basketball, golf, equestrian, swimming … a wide variety of sports. We coordinate the athletes going on regional trips, which can sometimes be seven hour trips down to Sydney and places like that. I get together the registration papers with the rest of the committee we now have here, which makes my job so much easier.
And what have been some of the best parts of your journey with the Special Olympics?
It’s hard to put into words the satisfaction you get out of just watching all these guys with intellectual disabilities and some with physical disabilities just having a great time and meeting people they may not otherwise meet, getting out of their comfort zones, being involved with and watching other people.
On the way to an event, when we pull up in our uniforms and we all pile out of the buses, just the the look on people’s faces is amazing. Well organised, well grouped, the team loves it; it’s hard to put into words. It’s stressful in a lot of ways, but I just get so much joy out of it. On the committee, we are all surrogate mothers and fathers for these guys; it’s very special.
I imagine there’s a lot of fundraising that goes on. What are some of the things you do to raise money, so you can deliver this amazing service?
We have 15 guys from Port Macquarie representing NSW in Adelaide – that’s our major one at the moment. The fundraising for that was a corporate night at 10 pin bowling. The community supports the Special Olympics a lot; people may not know a lot about the Special Olympics but once they get to know a bit about it, they jump on board. We speak to businesses, the clubs – Port City Bowling Club has been a great support of ours for many years now.
You’re very passionate about all of this, and you were recently recognised as Port Macquarie Electorate’s Woman of the Year. Congratulations! It must have been a very proud moment for you …
It was! It came as a bit of a shock, as there are so many wonderful women doing work in the community. Lesley Williams is a big supporter of Special Olympics, and she’s such a nice person to have on your side as a human being and as a woman. When she nominated me, I was just shocked, basically, but I really do appreciate the award, and all the team at the Special Olympics have given me a big pat on the back.
How can others get involved and help the Special Olympics out?
If people would like to get online and go to our website or our Facebook page and get in contact with us, we are always looking to raise awareness for the Special Olympics, to gain more coaches or other people to increase our team up here. It’s so fulfilling but like anything, it’s a volunteer-based thing – people are so busy these days, and any help is greatly appreciated.
For more information about the Special Olympics Mid North Coast, visit http://www.specialolympics.com.au/index.php/midnorthcoast