They ran and walked to forge the path for others to compete.
Hundreds of Service members were joined by Special Olympians for the Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario, a registered charitable organization that provides fitness, recreation and competitive programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Torch Runs are held by police services across the province to benefit Special Olympians.
The Service’s longstanding association with the Torch Run was acknowledged by new Chief Mark Saunders before participants started out from the courtyard of police headquarters.
“We do it because we know it’s an incredibly important event for us to help others,” he said, thanking the volunteers and donors for their efforts.
Participants fundraised by selling T-shirts to wear on the run and walk, which looped the downtown core.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said the Torch Run is a special benefit event embraced fondly by the Service and its members.
“Since the Torch Run began its partnership with Special Olympics Ontario, the number of registered athletes has grown from under 4,000 to more than 19,000 athletes now,” he said. “The Special Olympics program is exceptional and unique, founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can learn, enjoy, benefit from and being empowered by participation in individual and team sports. This extraordinary program improves the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and, in turn, the lives of everyone else they touch. The partnership between law enforcement agencies and the Special Olympics program is a powerful link. This is truly community policing at its best.”
Acting Deputy Chief Jim Ramer, the chair of the Torch Run committee, said he was proud of the volunteers’ commitment and dedication.
“Their efforts throughout the year in organizing events and activities are truly a monumental task,” he said. “They have done an outstanding job.”
The Toronto Police Services Board, the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association, the Toronto Police Association and BMO Global Asset Management each contributed $5,000 and the Service’s Senior Officers Association and the Police Credit Union each presented $500.
Mukherjee promised that, if BMO raises its donation to $10,000 next year, the Board will match it.
Last year, the Service contributed nearly $90,000 to Special Olympics Ontario.
Retired Chief Jack Marks and Const. Lorne White organized the inaugural Torch Run/Walk in Canada in 1987, that brought together about 1,200 participants from 36 law enforcement agencies. They covered nearly 900 kilometres before lighting the flame at Varsity Arena to kick off the Special Olympics International Floor Hockey tournament.