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Kia announces three-year Special Olympics Canada sponsorship

Sally Anderson of Special Olympics Canada in action during an alpine skiing event before the opening of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Rohrmoos, Schladming, Austria, March 17 2017.

DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA

Kia Canada is pledging about $500,000 a year to support Special Olympics Canada, becoming the organization's automotive partner.

The deal, announced at the Vancouver International Auto Show on Tuesday, is for three years and includes both cash and vehicle leases as prizes for fundraising events.

Staff will be provided paid time off to volunteer at Special Olympics events and to support the Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S.

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Special Olympics organizes sporting competitions for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics World Winter Games were conducted in Austria this month.

Ted Lancaster, Kia Canada vice-president and partnership leader, said in an interview that the company's dealership network will also be encouraged to participate. More than 42,000 athletes are registered in Canada, supported by more than 20,500 volunteers.

Kia is a prolific sponsor of sports, including FIFA, NBA teams, the Ladies' Professional Golf Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the World Extreme Games and Australian Open tennis.

Lancaster became personally involved with the organization as a volunteer and fundraiser because his brother Michael was a Special Olympics athlete. They have been pictured on a bus-shelter poster program.

He emphasized however, that the sponsorship "went through a full vetting process. We put a number of different charities on the table before we made our final decision."

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