Every time Tori Ranson attends practice for one of her five Special Olympics teams she's treated like a conquering hero.
Ranson, a 26-year-old athlete from Milton, Ont., had her design selected for a special-edition donut that will be sold in Tim Hortons across Canada on Saturday as part of the Special Olympics' annual Global Day of Inclusion. Since word got out about her culinary achievement, her teammates have been especially excited to see her.
"I don't know if she really knew what it all meant or what it would encompass so she was a little bit nervous," said Linda Ranson, Tori's mother, about her daughter learning about her design being chosen.
"Of course, everybody in the community knows about it so when she's out and about they're all congratulating her and high-fiving her and making her feel like a million-dollar donut."
Tori Ranson competes in soccer, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, track, and swimming. Her soccer team made it to the provincials in 2018 and she was named MVP at a basketball tournament earlier this year. Her donut — a cruller sliced in half, filled with whipped topping and decorated with vanilla fondant and red sprinkles — stood out among hundreds of entries for the best donut creation.
"When I first found out that my donut had won, I was shocked and then nervous. Now I am excited and proud. Everyone has been so nice," said Tori Ranson. "I made this donut up with all my most favourite parts of delicious donuts I've tried."
Although the donuts won't be available until Saturday morning, the Ranson family got a preview after visiting their local Tim Hortons.
"Delicious. Not great for the waistline," Linda Ranson said with a laugh. "They had made a big batch of Tori's donuts and they sent her home with a dozen so we went right away to her father's company and shared some with our neighbours, hot off the press."
Former Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden has been an active supporter of the Special Olympics since 2004, when he won gold in the K-1 500-metre canoeing race at the Athens Games. He's met hundreds of Special Olympics athletes since then and values the perspective the events give him.
"It's an amazing experience," said van Koeverden. "It's an opportunity to learn a new activity, a new sport, meet some new people. It's a chance to see what the power of sport is capable of. It's remarkable that sport is capable of doing so many things, empowering people, making them feel good, keeping us healthy. It does a lot to improve happiness and teaches a lot of skill."
The Special Olympics have had an immeasurable impact on the Ranson family, but especially Tori.
"Special Olympics have made Tori feel that she can participate, be part of the community, just like anybody else, anybody sitting beside her at the local Timmy's, walking down the street with her," said Linda Ranson.
"She has her uniform and her medals that she wears with pride. Having a busy schedule keeps her on her toes and is healthy for her mind and physically. We couldn't imagine our lives without it."
That independence extends to Saturday as Tori Ranson will be at her local Tim Hortons for the Global Day of Inclusion, proudly showing off her donut and explaining the importance of the Special Olympics to customers.