Special Olympics Canada’s Day of Inclusion & Tim Hortons
Saturday, July 21, 2018, marked Special Olympics’ first-ever Global Day of Inclusion (DOI), celebrated around the world to commemorate Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary, supporting the movement’s vision to create a world where individuals with an intellectual disability are recognized and included.
In Canada, Special Olympics Canada (SOC) sought the support of a national partner that could help amplify the DOI message (#ChooseToInclude) and raise awareness and funds in honor of the 50th Anniversary. Tim Hortons, due to its presence in communities across the country and its commitment to diversity and inclusion, was a natural fit. Together, SOC and Tim Hortons developed a plan to sell a Special Olympics donut on July 21 where all proceeds from the donut would go to Special Olympics programs across the country.
In the Spring of 2018, SOC and the Provincial/Territorial Chapters put out a call to athletes to submit their idea for a donut that represents Special Olympics to them. Over a 48-hour period, SOC received 85 submissions. Six finalists were selected and Tim Hortons’ research & development team tested their donuts.
Savannah Lussier, a 14-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Grand Prairie, Alberta had her donut selected – a cruller with chocolate icing and red & white sprinkles. The cruller and chocolate icing are her favorites, the sprinkles are her brother’s favorites, and the red & white to represent SOC and Canada’s colors.
On July 21, the day was celebrated in communities across Canada and the message #ChooseToInclude was shared thousands of time through social media.
In 2,940 Tim Hortons’ restaurants, the Special Olympics donut was sold with all proceeds from every donut going to SOC to support community sports programs. The Special Olympics donut is one of the first activations that restaurant owners have asked to be involved in again.
Throughout the day, over 78,000 donuts were sold, raising $121,940. Equally as important, the #ChooseToInclude message reached millions of Canadians and the hashtag was one of the top three trending hashtags in Canada that Saturday and Sunday. Messaging was reinforced and shared by other SOC National Partners, celebrities, law enforcement officials, government, CFL players and teams and by athletes, families, friends, coaches and volunteers helping to drive the reach of DOI.