Clint Morrison being inducted into the Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame
January 4th, 2023
Clint Morrison's dedicated his life to building inclusion through sports, and was recently inducted into the Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame.
But his road to the hall wasn't an easy one. Clint's story shows the power of perseverance, the importance of having a good friend, and the incredible difference someone can make when they have the courage to stand up for others.
A Desire To Play
The fire burned in Clint Morrison. An avid hockey fan, the youngster had dreams of making the NHL Hall of Fame and becoming a superstar, famous for his ability to soar down the ice and find the back of the net. Clint relived the scene again and again in his head and was ready to achieve big things, but society wasn't ready for Clint. Born with an intellectual disability, he was put in boarding school at 7 years old, where he was forced to watch from the sidelines while his classmates played floor hockey.
Teachers told Clint that hockey just wasn't for him, but his love of the game never died. Even as he spent his childhood and adolescence in institutions, he kept aspiring to not only be an athlete like his idol Lanny McDonald, but to build community through sports.
Teachers told Clint that hockey just wasn't for him, but his love of the game never died
For Clint it wasn't acceptable that kids with intellectual disabilities didn't get to enjoy the same things others took for granted, and once he got older and enjoyed more freedom he hit the ground running with his athletic pursuits.
As a young adult he became a star player for the Vancouver Steelheaders floor hockey team, a coach and mentor to other athletes, and even began organizing his own events. At 23 he started a new floor hockey league, and then at 29 became involved in an organization that was just getting established in BC - one that would change his life and many others - Special Olympics BC.
Crossing Paths Around the same time, in Kamloops, a young physical education teacher for kids with intellectual disabilities was also getting involved with the Special Olympics.
Dan Howe thought the emerging inclusive sports movement was a natural fit for his students, and he began connecting them to the organization and hosting athletic events.
Becoming a fixture within his community's Special Olympic scene, Dan would join team BC on their trip to the 1981 national games in Ottawa, and it was there where he'd meet Clint Morrison.
Dan still laughs as he remembers the experience.
"There we were at the opening ceremony on Parliament Hill. It was attended by the Prime Minister, NHL players, and all sorts of stars."
"They had their own VIP section, and then I look over and see Clint standing with them - he didn't have an invitation to be in that area and wasn't supposed to be there, but he saw an opportunity to promote the Special Olympics and took it. They all loved having him there."
Clint on the left with longtime friend Dan Howe
It's that goal to promote inclusion through sports which would drive both Dan and Clint over the next 40 years.
During that time, Dan became Special Olympics BC CEO, while Clint raised more than $60,000 for the organization, coached dozens of athletes provincially and nationally, and continued raising awareness about the importance of inclusion and the power of sports.
But no matter how many years passed, Clint never forgot his early days.
"Society told me I'd never have a job, never play sports, never make it in the real world. I wanted to prove that I was a leader and would always be there to help people."
The Hall Of Famer
Clint's achievements kept piling up - even Premier John Horgan contacted him to thank him for his community building work - but there was one box left to tick.
He still dreamed of becoming a hall of famer like his idol Lanny McDonald, whom he'd been able to meet at the Special Olympics World Games.
That dream came true in September, when he was inducted into the Special Olympics BC Hall of Fame for a lifetime of going above and beyond to build inclusion.
While Clint has a big team of all-star supporters, no one was prouder of him than his longtime friend Dan Howe.
"When I look at Clint, he's been engaged since the start."
"He's dedicated so much of his life to tirelessly building the Special Olympics, helping enrich so many peoples' lives, and he truly deserves this."
Clint celebrating his hall of fame induction, alongside supporters and other inductees
It's been decades since Clint Morrison first had to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids enjoy what he could only dream of at the time.
In taking it upon himself to advocate for the full community participation of people with intellectual disabilities he learned many lessons, and one stands above the rest for him.
"Don't be afraid of what other people say, whether they tell you that you can't do something or that you aren't doing something right."
"You can achieve your dreams, and you can do it in your own way, as long as you keep believing in yourself."