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Beloved 'Operation Trackshoes' sports festival ending after 50 years

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A highlight for thousands of athletes in B.C. is coming to an end after 50 years in operation.

The sports festival Operation Trackshoes launched on Vancouver Island in 1971.

"A small group of us had seen a film on Special Olympics and a couple of us had just been up at summer camp, and we wanted to put those concepts together," said Operation Trackshoes president Judith Armstrong about the formation of the event.

Since then, anyone with a developmental disability in B.C. who wants to compete has been welcomed into the sports festival.

From running, to soccer to tug-of-war, the event has meant a lot to competitors and their friends and family members.

Nothing beats the roar of the crowd.

"Everybody cheering you on when you do the 1,500 [metre run]," said athlete Dixon McGowan, who started competing back in 1987.

Over the years, he's collected many ribbons and has a scrapbook celebrating the event.

Besides the games, some people just love the banquet and the dance.

"We love to gather," said Armstrong with a laugh.

Dixon even started DJ-ing the teen dance for the event, and picked up a fun nickname.

"DJ Lighting!" he told CTV News with enthusiasm.

But after 50 years, the baton starts to get heavy.

A lack of resources and personnel means Operation Trackshoes is coming to an end.

"I'm just very grateful we get to do it one more time," said Armstrong.

The 50th Operation Trackshoes kicks off in Victoria from June 9 to 11. 

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