Supporting Inclusivity Together: Meet Ethan Merlin

Here at Cape Breton University, inclusion is a top priority and we are excited to be hosting this year’s motionball Marathon of Sport Cape Breton on campus. motionball for Special Olympics is a national, not-for-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation in support of those living with intellectual disabilities. Since its inception in 2002, motionball has  spread nationally across 17 cities and more than 35 universities. 

Co-Event Director and soon-to-be CBU graduate, Ethan Merlin, has been involved with motionball Cape Breton from the very beginning. “I became involved with motionball for Special Olympics when my high school basketball coach, David Ogbuah, asked me to help out,” says Ethan. As the Special Olympic community in Cape Breton was small at the time, Ethan became heavily involved in volunteering at events and lending a hand wherever he could. “It was a passion for me as I have a direct connection to the community through a neighbor with Down Syndrome, who I consider to be my little brother,” he adds.  

Ethan is originally from Sydney River and moved to Halifax to pursue his Bachelor of Science degree at Dalhousie University. After completing his degree with a double-major in Mathematics and Sociology of Critical Health Studies in 2023, Ethan moved back home to continue his studies at CBU in the16-month Secondary Bachelor of Education program.

This year, as a seasoned motionball volunteer, Ethan has taken on the role of Co-Event Director for the June 22 event. “As Event Directors, we have the majority of responsibilities in terms of overseeing the committee, communicating with the national office, relationships with Special Olympics Cape Breton and securing sponsorships,” Ethan explains. “My position is to lead the Marathon of Sport committee to plan and execute the Marathon of Sport Cape Breton while working closely with motionball’s National Office to organize logistical items, sponsorship relations and team recruitment and relations.” Ethan is also a member of the motionball National Leadership Council (NLC).

motionball is a fun-filled day where teams made up of family, friends and colleagues compete alongside Special Olympic athletes in a variety of different sports and game stations. In 2023, the motionball Cape Breton event raised $62,000 for the Special Olympics Foundation. “Across the nation we all have the same goal of making this world a better place while being our community advocates for inclusion,” says Ethan. “By bringing members of our community together for a day of celebration, this empowers the next generation to be leaders of change.”

Like Ethan, CBU has been a supporter of this event from it’s conception. “CBU is already a huge supporter of motionball Cape Breton, being involved with us since our original start-up year in 2018,” Ethan explains. “It is crucial that CBU, alongside many of its amazing neighbouring organizations, continues to stay involved and motivates others to do the same in order to see motionball’s continued growth.”

This year’s event takes place on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at the Ness Timmons Soccer Field at CBU. Those looking to attend who have not yet secured a team are welcome to join as a free agent, an option that allows individuals to register as a solo participant and be placed on a team.  Motionball is also seeking volunteers to help make the event a success. Those interested in participating or volunteering can contact for more information. 

For more information on motionball Cape Breton, please visit or email

On behalf of Cape Breton University, we wish the motionball Cape Breton team the best of luck in this year’s Marathon of Sport!