When OPP officer Bill Dickson was asked to lead the local Law Enforcement Torch Run, he had no idea what it was, let alone that it was the largest Special Olympics fundraiser in the world. It wasn’t long after being “volun-told” by former commissioner Chris Lewis, however, that Dickson began to think “oh, this is something really good.”
It wasn’t until his first final leg, running in the opening ceremony of provincial spring games in Peterborough, when the true meaning of the torch run hit home.
“I will always remember running into that arena with law enforcement reps from across the province, and discovering that it was filled with athletes who were cheering for us, family members who were cheering for us, the coaches, and community members. The music was playing, people were cheering and my heart was in my throat …”
It is also the community building during the run, when athletes are paired up with law enforcement representatives, that is “one of the best things” for him.
“It’s not just about raising money and handing it over. It’s about building relationships with these athletes and saying ‘yes, we see the importance of this organization that you’re involved in’ and being able to run down the street with our buckets out, side by side with Special Olympics athletes.”
The OPP also work with Barrie Police, provincial and federal corrections, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Fisheries and Oceans enforcement branch in Ottawa.
The LETR are supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), who have been an active partner of Special Olympics Canada for more than 35 years. Nearly four million dollars has been raised in Canada.
LETR happens on different dates in different communities, with Barrie and Orillia, June 14.
Since inception in 1981, the LETR has raised more than $35 million globally and worked to change millions of attitudes about the Special Olympics.
For information: www.torchrunontario.com
(Pictured: Bill Dickson of the OPP)