Shirley Shaw

Photo of Shirley Shaw
Shirley Shaw

Shirley Shaw served as head coach for the Simcoe Seals swim team for Special Olympics athletes for over 20 years, seeing the numbers rise from nine swimmers to over 40 during that time. Shaw has also served as the local chair of the Simcoe Special Olympics Community Council.

Besides swimming, Shaw introduced a number of other sports to local Special Olympics athletes, including basketball, floor hockey, snowshoeing, and golf. As an organizer, she recruited coaches, secured venues, and fundraised, among other activities, dedicating countless hours to providing life-changing opportunities.

Shaw has helped many athletes achieve their dreams, including attending Provincial, National, and World Games. She took one of her swimmers, Michael Pacheco, to the Canada Summer Games in Quebec, where he competed for Team Ontario. In addition to Quebec, Shaw’s athletes have traveled to British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and even further afield for competitions.

In the reference letters supporting her application, Shaw was praised for her “dedication, kindness, and compassion.” She was described as a “wonderful coach and mentor,” with “an amazing way with the athletes.” One reference noted that “Shirley has provided an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to feel valued, accepted, and accomplished in their sport and in life.” As the writer of one reference letter put it, “Everyone deserves a chance to feel valued and included. Shirley has provided this chance for many, many people.” Shaw notes about her athletes that she is “so very proud of all their hard work.”

Jeff Charlesworth, Program Consultant for Southwest Ontario for Special Olympics Ontario, sent a message in honour of Shirley Shaw’s induction, commenting that “the Simcoe Seals swim program is one of the best in the province,” and noting Shaw’s induction is “well deserved.”

In acknowledgement of her efforts, Shaw was named Special Olympics Ontario Female Coach of the Year in 2016. She received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General of Canada in 2017, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International in 2019.

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