Police across Ontario join forces to help Special Olympics
An annual fundraiser that is critical to the success of Special Olympics across the province returned to Simcoe County today.
The OPP Guardians Torch Run for Special Olympics operated in a hybrid format this year, with a large gathering taking part together. The group started outside OPP headquarters in Orillia.
"It's always been a very important event," says Cody Jansma, the director of business development for Special Olympics Ontario. "It's one of our marquee fundraisers and this year more than ever. Obviously, coming out of COVID, we're trying to restart our programs right now. OPP's partnered with all the police agencies and law enforcement agencies around the province to run this event."
There was the option for participants to walk or run. Chief Andrew Fletcher, the chief of police for South Simcoe, also chairs the committee for the run. He says Special Olympics has been the charity of choice for police for years.
"Well, these athletes are so special to us and the fact that they are getting involved and getting out, particularly during the time of the pandemic, we're here to raise that awareness, the importance of raising funds to support these athletes just brings a smile to our face and gives us a chance to give back to our communities," says Fletcher.
The run last brought in $90,000. While the in-person gathering was clouded with a rainy start, it wasn't enough to dampen the spirits of those who turned out.
"Despite the weather, an opportunity for us as police officers to run shoulder to shoulder with special Olympics athletes with our colleagues and with community, all coming together with one purpose, with one goal and that's to support our athletes and help them achieve their personal best," says Commissioner Thomas Carrique, the commissioner of the OPP.
This year approximately 250 people turned out in Orillia, with an additional 500 participating throughout the province, as the OPP partnered with local police services.
"Torch Run money, we call it the great equalizer," says Jansma of the Special Olympics. "It helps any athlete in the province if they want to participate in sport. We remove the financial barriers by the money that we raise here today. So 90,000 dollars will go a long way to help get back on the playing field from any corner of the province."
For more information on the run, click here.