Matthew Fields will miss coming to police headquarters to visit Chief Bill Blair.
He’s not alone.
A strong Special Olympics advocate, Blair, who leaves his office on April 25, often invites athletes for pep talks and words of encouragement.
“I will miss that,” said 24-year-old Fields, 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. “He had an open door and was always willing to accept us and support us. He took the time to meet with us and our families in his office to talk about training and competition. We hope he will come out to our events.”
Fields and Special Olympians Deeshana Nana, Lisa Porter and Quinn Martin joined Special Olympics Ontario marketing services manager Lynn Miller and Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run manager Cody Jansma in presenting a plaque to Blair.
“We just wanted to thank the Chief for being a huge supporter,” said Jansma, “He has been a real leader in the Torch Run movement since 1987.”
Blair said he relished hosting the athletes and supporting Special Olympics.
“Every cop in Ontario understands the value of the Torch Run and Special Olympics and every cop in Ontario knows what an important effort this is and how their contributions make an extraordinary difference,” he said. “I personally am delighted when the athletes come by and when they are here at police headquarters because their enthusiasm and passion for the sport and for the competition is for me an inspiration as I know it is for all of you.”
Staff Superintendent Jim Ramer and Superintendent Bryce Evans are the Law Enforcement Torch Run chair and co-chair respectively.
“Each and every time I attend these events and I am out there with the athletes, I can tell you that everytime I look at them, they demonstrate to me that they are full of life, they demonstrate courage and they also overcome their challenges to try and succeed,” Evans said. “They don’t care whether they win or lose. They just want to compete hard and give everything they have while having fun.”
Fields, born with Fragile X syndrome which is a genetic disease that’s the most widespread single-gene cause of autism and inherited cause of intellectual disability, especially among boys, recently qualified to take part in alpine skiing at next year’s national Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
“I am so happy and my parents are thrilled,” said Fields, who also swims, competes in track and field and is a Special Olympics ambassador. “I have been skiing since age three and this is a big moment for me as I has never been to a Canada Winter Games.”
This year’s Torch Run takes place on May 28, starting at 1.15 p.m., outside police headquarters. The Service is also hosting a fundraising barbecue and silent auction on June 11.
The cost of T-shirts for this year’s run is $20 and they can be obtained through firstname.lastname@example.org or through unit site representatives.
Last year, the Service sold close to 1,000 T-shirts. Overall, Toronto Police contributed nearly $90,000 to Special Olympics Ontario in 2014.
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.