Special Olympians Spirit Strong

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:26 a.m. June 27, 2014
Updated: 11:26 a.m. June 27, 2014

When it comes to confidence in the performance of Ontario Special Olympians, track & field competitor Ian Sheppard is not short of it.

A man in TPS uniform laughing between two seated people in matching track suits
Chief Bill Blair shares a laugh with Special Olympians Ian Sheppard and Kathleen Wood in his office

The track and field representative assured Police Chief Bill Blair that the Ontario team will do well at the upcoming Canada Summer Games from July 8-12 in Vancouver.

The veteran athlete and swimmer Kathleen Woo visited the Chief at police headquarters on June 25 to thank the Service which raised nearly $25,000 to send 21 athletes from Toronto to the Games.

“One of the things I like about Special Olympics is the athletes coming to visit me at headquarters,” Blair told the participants. “We will be following your progress on social media and cheering for you. You are representing Ontarians and all of us in Canada. Go out there and have fun.”

Sheppard, a Special Olympian for the last 17 years, has represented Canada at world championships in China and Japan, while Woo is a newcomer to the provincial side.

“Ian is a seasoned athlete while Kathleen has accomplished a lot in the four years she has been with us,” said Special Olympics Ontario marketing and fundraising manager Lynn Miller.

She, along with board of directors’ chair Shafiq Ebrahim and Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run manager Cody Jansma accompanied the athletes to police headquarters.

Miller said the organization is extremely grateful for the Service’s financial contribution.

A group of people standing in front of three people seated in an office setting
Standing: Shafiq Ebrahim, Cody Jansma, Lynn Miller, Leslie Koski, Staff Superintendnet James Ramer and Detective Michael Puterbaugh. Seated: Ian Sheppard, Chief Bill Blair and Kathleen Woo

“We were required to raise $1,000 per athlete, which is a subsidized amount, for an athlete to go to Vancouver,” she added. “They still would have gone, but our organization would have had to heavily subsidize the amount. We are very appreciative of the Toronto Police Service’s effort.

Ebrahim concurred.

“This is a huge contribution that means a lot,” he said. “We are happy for the support and goodwill shown by Toronto Police. They are always there for us.”

Blair presented two water bottles to the athletes in the presence of the Services’ law enforcement torch run co-chair Staff Superintendent James Ramer and Detective Michael Puterbaugh, who is in charge of the Service’s Special Olympics fundraising with the support of Leslie Koski.

Nearly 355 provincial athletes will attend the quadrennial event that features 11 sports.

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