Ahead of the 2026 Special Olympic Summer Games in Medicine Hat, the city’s chamber of commerce and game organizers have partnered to introduce a fundraising initiative targeted at local businesses.
Announced Wednesday, the Corporate Friends of the Games initiative encourages chamber members to commit to annual donations which will help fund the games. Donations can be made alongside annual membership fees or through a specially designed instalment plan.
“As a community, we recognize and appreciate the economic impact these types of events have on our community,” chamber president Scott Lehr said. “We take pride in the generosity of our business community, which regularly contributes their time and resources to ensure the success of large festivals, events and tournaments.”
The games, which will run from Aug. 9-16, 2026, will draw approximately 1,400 athletes, as well as coaches, supporters and fans to Medicine Hat and area. Officials expect the week of festivities to provide a $9-million boost to the local economy.
While organizers feel good about the anticipated economic boost, the focus remains on fundraising leading up to the games.
Fundraising is expected to make up roughly $250,000 of the Games’ $2.5-million budget, Ken Sauer, vice-chair of Medicine Hat Alberta Games Society and director of Friends of the Games, said Wednesday.
Special Olympics Canada is expected to contribute $650,000, the province of Alberta $500,000 and the City of Medicine Hat is expected to give $300,000, along with covering any deficit.
Organizers estimate $350,000 will come from Alberta Gambling, Liquor and Cannabis’ charitable gaming over the next five years, $100,000 from local school division’s Cinco de Mayo fundraising efforts over the next five years, $70,000 from athlete registration fees, $60,000 from sport sponsors, $50,000 from merchandise sales and $100,000 from services and gifts in kind.
Though Sauer is confident the Games will not run over budget, he confirmed about $400,000 still needs to be raised. Sauer hopes chamber members will embrace the Corporate Friends of the Games initiative and help raise the needed funds.
“(With Special Olympics) we’re talking about inclusivity, we’re talking about sharing kindness,” Sauer said. “We know the business community has always (stepped) up. Whether there’s a softball tournament or pickleball tournament; they’re there to help in some way, to make a donation toward it.”
Members interested the initiative are asked to connect with the chamber for more information.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News