Torch Run raises awareness for Sarnia-area Special Olympics

Torch Run raises awareness for Sarnia area Special Olympics

Law enforcement workers, Special Olympic athletes and supporters took part in this year’s Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run from Point Edward’s Waterfront Park to the Sarnia courthouse Friday morning.

Article content

The run, an annual tradition, included representatives of the OPP, Sarnia police, Canada Border Service Agency, Sarnia Jail and probation and parole services.

“The Law Enforcement Torch Run has been around for 37 years in Ontario,” and has raised more than $50 million, said the event’s Derek Spence.

This year’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics heads out Friday morning from the starting line near Point Edward’s Waterfront Park. (Paul Morden/The Observer) Photo by Paul Morden /The Observer

Torch Run events are the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics and worldwide have raised more than $1 billion since the 1980s, he said.

“That money all goes towards helping to pay for field rentals, uniforms, travel costs – everything involved in the athletes being able to take part in the sporting events,” Spence said.

“It’s really a unique partnership with law enforcement,” he said. “It’s probably one of the great secrets.”

Article content

Law enforcement workers across Ontario hold events year-round to raise money for Special Olympics, he said.

“In the past 12 months, we’ve raised $2.5 million just in Ontario alone,” Spence said. “That money goes a long way.”

Torch runs, like the one in Point Edward Friday, are more about raising awareness and “spreading the word of inclusion, and making people aware of our Special Olympic athletes,” he said.

Torch Run
Jocelyne Paquette, with Sarnia police, holds the torch at the start of Friday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. With her is Jana Manchester, Special Olympics Sarnia’s community co-ordinator. (Paul Morden/The Observer) Photo by Paul Morden /The Observer

About 150 athletes and 70 volunteers are registered with Special Olympics Sarnia, which offers curling, swimming, floor hockey, five- and 10-pin bowling, basketball, powerlifting, soccer, track and field, and dance fitness programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

In February, local law enforcement workers held a Polar Plunge at Lambton College that raised more than $35,000 for Special Olympics.

“It’s just an exceptional partnership,” said Michael Van Sickle, a Sarnia police inspector who spoke before Friday’s run.

Torch Run
Sarnia Police Insp. Michael Van Sickle speaks before Friday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in Point Edward’s Waterfront Park. (Paul Morden/The Observer) Photo by Paul Morden /The Observer

“The athletes that it benefits, they get so much joy out of it,” he said. “To be able to give back to them, in whatever way that we can, to allow them to participate in the sports they love to do, is the best part about this.”

Friday’s run was followed by a barbecue at the courthouse.

[email protected]

Share this article in your social network