Photo Christine Hudder
BARRY’S BAY – Escorted by police, dozens of local athletes took to the downtown core in Barry’s Bay to generate awareness and funds for the Special Olympics.
They were taking part in the fourth annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, spearheaded by the Ontario Provincial Police and the local Special Olympics groups.
Bill Dickson is the zone coordinator for the run. He is based out of the OPP regional headquarters in Smiths Falls. That same day, he had helped organize similar fundraisers in Pembroke and Petawawa. On Wednesday, he was also in Renfrew and Arnprior for torch runs.
Dickson said the events mark the 25th anniversary of the Law Enforcement Torch Runs in Ontario.
“The torch run is something that law enforcers do around the world now to support Special Olympics,” he said.
Five officers participated in the local event, along with Killaloe OPP Staff Sergeant Paul Dowdall.
“It gives individuals with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to be more than they have been and do more than they have done and to accomplish something that everyone has a right and deserves to fulfill,” Dickson explained.
He said he knows of athletes who were at one point withdrawn and sat at home. But when they got involved in Special Olympics, they became more confident.
“It brings them right out of their shells,” he said.
Dickson said he never sets a goal amount on how much he wants to raise.
“The torch run is about raising money but it is also about raising awareness,” he said. “The Special Olympics movement in Barry’s Bay has been around for a few years, but it may not be as well known as it could be. If we can raise some awareness and raise some money for Special Olympics at the same time that would be great.”
Money that is raised in a community stays inside the community for equipment, transportation, uniforms and anything else that helps the athletes to succeed.
Story continues in the May 23 issue of The Valley Gazette.