The idea of uniting children who have overcome oncological illnesses through sports and physical activities is rooted back in time, several years ago. In 2007, the first International Onco-Olympiad took place in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. About 200 children competed in the Olympiad having arrived from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Poland. Russia was represented by seven young athletes.
In 2010, it was Russia’s turn to host guests from various countries at the First World Children’s Winners Games, another sports event for childhood cancer survivors. The Games were held June 14 – 16 at the sports stadium Locomotive, in Moscow. The celebration of life and athleticism was organized by Gift of Life in partnership with the Football Club Locomotive. Russian capital welcomed 200 children, age 7 – 16, from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Armenia, Latvia, Romania and Hungary. The opening ceremony was symbolically chosen to start on June 14, the international day of Blood Donors. And rightfully so: a victory over cancer is not possible without the selfless gift of blood from donors.
In 2011, the Games took place at the hospitable Foresta resort in Moscow region. Check Republic, Romania and Turkey joined our event.
Next year, 2012, we competed and celebrated in the very heart of Moscow - the Gorky Park. Teams from Germany, Serbia and Azerbaijan visited the Games for the first time. May 31 to June 2, our winners competed in the 6 sports that have become traditional for the Games through the years. With great pleasure and admiration we introduced Shavarsh Karapetyan, our main referee that year, a World and European champion in swimming and a ten-time finswimming World Record-breaker.
In 2013, the first regional Winners' Games were held in the Chelyabinsk region (Russia). And the famous CSKA sports center hosted the World Winners' Games. Having Bulgaria and Croatia join our event, we welcomed young athletes from 12 countries and multiple regions of Russia. Again, we selected June 14 to start our event. Team leaders and volunteers working at the Games performed a fascinating flash mob to honor blood donors from all over the world.
In 2014, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. This year, participants from 14 countries (including the first-timers of 2014 - teams from Kazakhstan and Moldova) competed for medals, and everyone got a piece of the beautiful anniversary cake.
Next year, 2015, participants from 15 countries competed at the sports stadium Luzhniki. Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station recorded a video greeting for our participants.
In 2016, we reached the 500-participant milestone. Teams from Portugal and Lithuania visited the Games for the first time. This year, Regional Winners' Games took place in 2 regions of Russia - Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Novgorod.
In 2017, four regional events preceded the World Winners' Games in Moscow and 16 countries gathered for the final event.
In the last eight years, the Winners Games hosted over 2000 children from all over the vast territory of Russian Federation – from Kaliningrad to Irkutsk – and 19 countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Check Republic, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.