Donna Bilous

Community Sports Builder | Special Olympics

Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Donna Bilous is the first Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame inductee whose contributions have come primarily in the realm of Special Olympics.

Bilious has coached athletes in both winter and summer sports at multiple provincial, national and international competitions over her 14 years with the local chapter of Special Olympics BC. During that time, she’s fostered continual development of athletes, helped to expand programming options, and recruited and mentored young adults to join her in the coaching ranks.

Bilous’s involvement is primarily in speed skating and soccer, and she’s served in a wide variety of coaching, officiating, mission staff and administration roles. She’s coached with Team Canada at four Special Olympics World Games: the World Winter Games in 2009 (Boise, Idaho), 2013 (Pyeongchang, South Korea) and 2017 (Graz, Austria), and the 2011 World Summer Games (Athens, Greece). Her work has garnered a number of awards – in 2011 and 2017, she was Special Olympics BC’s Howard Carter Award recipient as coach of the year, and she was named Special Olympics Canada’s female coach of the year for 2017. She’s also a Speed Skating Canada Level 3A-certified official – one of just four females at that level nationwide.

In addition to her work with local athletes, Bilous has promoted the growth of Special Olympics speed skating at an international level. At her past three World Winter Games (2009, 2013 and 2017), she spent considerable time with less experienced coaches from other nations – including Poland and Syria – on technical aspects including skate sharpening, equipment maintenance and sport rules.

She’s also become a recognized expert in health development for persons with disabilities, in light of her experience as a coach, as a parent of a Special Olympics athlete, and as a registered nurse with over 40 years experience. She’s spoken at several high-profile events, including the 2017 Champions for Health Care summit.

Bilous’s coaching philosophy emphasizes mutual respect and lifelong learning, and she’s helped her athletes develop confidence and independence along with their sport-specific skills.