Special Olympics Athletes Inspire Officers

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 6:52 p.m. April 1, 2014
Updated: 8:22 a.m. April 2, 2014

More than most Service members, Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer has a complete understanding of how sport helps improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

A man, a woman and a man in TPS uniform stand in a row
Superintendent Bryce Evans, Lisa Porter and Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer

Moyer’s sister-in-law, Lisa Porter, is a Special Olympics athlete who has excelled in figure skating over the years.

She has won nearly 60 medals during an outstanding career.

“The connection for me is just being given a chance to get out and see her and the other athletes participate,” said Moyer, at this year’s  Special Olympics Ontario site representative meeting, hosted by the Toronto Police Service  Law Enforcement Torch Run  Committee, on March 31 in the headquarters auditorium. “When you watch them compete, it’s the competition and the event, it’s the social connection and ability to meet new friends and it’s also the ability for one day, a week or maybe a month if they are lucky, but definitely on one day, to feel very, very special.”

When you watch them compete, it’s the competition and the event, it’s the social connection and ability to meet new friends and it’s also the ability for one day, a week or maybe a month if they are lucky, but definitely on one day, to feel very, very special.

Joining Porter at the meeting was 23-year-old Special Olympian Matthew Fields, who is also a drummer and guitarist.

“At 13 years old, I wanted to play team sports, so I began playing soccer,” said Fields, who was born with Fragile X syndrome,  a genetic disease that is the most widespread single-gene cause of autism and inherited cause of intellectual disability, especially among boys. “It was fun, from the first day, and everyone was accepting of people for who they are. I made friends and continue to make friends all the time because of Special Olympics.”

Fields also swims, competes in track-and-field and downhill skiing and is a Special Olympics national ambassador.

“That’s my way of giving back to Special Olympics,” he said.

Staff Superintendent Jim Ramer and Superintendent Bryce Evans are the Law Enforcement Torch Run chair and co-chair respectively.

Evans, who plans to use social media to promote Special Olympics, said he decided to help after attending the 2014 conference for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on February 1 in Orillia.

“What inspired me was the presentation on the videos they played on the screen,” said Evans. “I had tears in my eyes and I don’t admit that openly because I have a reputation… What the athletes do should be presented around the world and social media is certainly one of the ways to get the message out.”

Last year, the province’s law enforcement sector raised $1.5 million for Special Olympics Ontario.

“Toronto Police played a big part in that,” said Ontario Law Enforcement Run manager Cody Jansma. “That contribution is very vital to Special Olympics.”

This year’s Torch Run takes place on May 29, starting at 1 p.m., outside police headquarters. The Service is also hosting a fundraising barbecue and silent auction on June 26.

The cost of T-shirts for this year’s run is $25 and they can be obtained through letr@torontopolice.on.ca or through unit site representatives.

Last year, the Service sold close to $26,000 in T-shirts. Overall, Toronto Police contributed $64,992 to Special Olympics in 2013.

The Torch Run is the major fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario, a registered charitable organization that provides fitness, recreation and competitive programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Retired Chief Jack Marks and Const. Lorne White organized the inaugural Torch Run in Canada, in 1987, that brought together runners from 36 law enforcement agencies. They covered nearly 900 kilometres before lighting the flame at Varsity Arena to kick off the International Floor Hockey tournament.

A man wearing and holding several medals
Matthew Fields displays his Special Olympics medals
TPS crest watermark