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Joanna Donovan

IMG_8695.JPGJoanna Donovan has been a constant supporter of the Special Olympics New Zealand snow sports programme for more than a decade! The qualified snowboard instructor and ski coach has been volunteering her time at the annual Cardrona ski camp for 12 years now.

“Basically I go down and give my time so they don’t have to pay for an instructor for the week,” Joanna says. “I take the snowboarders for the week and help them work on their skills and technique.

“To be honest, I think I get more out of Special Olympics than the athletes do. I get a real kick out of seeing the athletes achieving. I worked with some of the boarders early on when they weren’t even really able to board, and now they’re about to compete internationally. It’s very special.”

Special Olympics is a family activity for the Raumati Beach resident. Son Jason Donovan is a talented skier and is one of the athletes heading to Austria 2017, and husband Wayne is a regular volunteer at the Cardrona ski camp.

Joanna was also a member of the Special Olympics delegation to the World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, as an alpine ski coach.

“It was an absolutely amazing experience – such a magical time,” she says. “Just seeing the athletes competing at their best and seeing the smile on their faces when they were able to complete the course, was so great.”

Outside of Special Olympics Joanna has worked at Paraparaumu College since 1998, and has had a number of roles in that time including teacher aide and working in the canteen, and is now the manager of the school library. She also keeps herself busy with family commitments, including spending time with her three grandchildren.

At Austria 2017, Joanna says she really wants the New Zealand athletes to have a great time.

“I want them to perform to the best of their ability, but its also important that they enjoy themselves – it’s such an amazing opportunity.”

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