Signing up to help out at the annual Police Games at Variety Village was the first volunteering assignment Staff Superintendent Rick Stubbings took on, shortly after joining the Service in the early 1980s.
“I saw the Routine Order seeking volunteers and (Superintendent) Bryce Evans and I agreed to come out and help,” said Stubbings, at the 34th annual event on May 7. “As young constables, we came out for three years in a row. In addition to wanting to find out more about the Games, it was important for me to give back and learn more about the athletes’ abilities and disabilities.”
Variety Village provides sports, fitness, wellness and skills-development programs to people with physical or developmental disabilities.
The Games started in 1981, when some 41 Division officers pooled their coffee money to stage a fun day for about 12 kids.
To date, the Games have grown, giving children with special needs across the Greater Toronto Area an opportunity to participate in a day of goodwill, sportsmanship and friendly competition.
About 250 people took part in this year’s event.
Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews of Intelligence was one of the many Service members who volunteered.
“It’s great to spend some quality time with the participants and have some positive interactions,” he said. “I have done it for a few years and it’s quite rewarding.”
This year’s Master of Ceremony was former Canadian Armed Forces Captain Kimberley Fawcett, who served twice in Afghanistan. She lost her right leg in 2006 while stationed in Kingston.
Fawcett was walking with her nine-month-old son when they were struck by a careless driver. After being revived from an induced coma, four days after the accident, she found out that her right leg was amputated below the knee and her young son lost his life.
“I am standing on two legs and, while one of them is not the same as the other, it works the same,” she said. “So, when we talk about abilities in this amazing facility, we are talking about things like this, which is a prosthetic leg.”
Fawcett is preparing to compete in the Paralympics triathlon in Rio this summer.