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'I'll try my best and bring home medals for London': Buy a donut, help Special Olympians compete

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Kathleen Mills has bowled her way from London, Ont. all the way to Calgary, Alta.

The 35-year-old five-pin bowler will be attending her first Special Olympics National Winter Games at the end of February.

"I'm excited to be in a place I've never been and [in] a big competition," said Mills. "I'll try my best and bring home medals for London.”

She qualified for the games with a first place finish at a tournament in May 2023.

"I usually hit like 500 for three games," said Mills. "That's typical, but sometimes I hit like a 600. It just depends on the week. My highest I've ever got in a single is 293.”

This is a special weekend for athletes like Kathleen and others across Canada. It's the annual promotion of the Tim Horton's Special Olympics donut.

They've been asking people to post photos with their unique treat, and use the hashtag #ChooseToInclude.

Special Olympians (L-R) Scott Mitchell, Val Nyhout and Adele Crozier hold their Special Olympics donut at a Tim Horton's in London, Ont. on Feb. 3, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

To make things sweeter, 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to Special Olympics programming.

"Because we're 100 per cent volunteer run at the community level it goes to supporting programs," said David Nyhout, a coach with Special Olympics London. "It helps with equipment, travel expenses and running the programs.”

In 2023, donut sales reached $625,000 nationwide.

"To send an athlete to even National Games is a pretty hefty expense with transportation costs and accommodations," said Nyhout. "It's a week-long event that Kathleen [Mills] is going to and it helps support the cost.”

Back at Fleetway, Mills is getting in some extra practice, before the trip of her lifetime.

"I'm excited but I'm nervous for the plane ride because I haven't flown since I was 10," said Mills. "You can meet friends and see different people from all over Canada. I'll just to try to do my best and try to come home with a medal.” 

Five-pin bowler Kathleen Mills of London, Ont. is headed to the Special Olympics National Winter Games in Calgary, Alta. in February 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

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