Torch Run Fuels Determined Athletes
Special Olympics athletes in the province have the full support of Toronto Police Service.
Chief Myron Demkiw reiterated that commitment at the 36th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) on June 20.
The athletes led both the two-kilometre run and walk.
“We are here to celebrate you, your courage, your strength, your passion for sport,” said Demkiw. “I know I speak for everyone here when I say: we admire you, we admire your bravery, we admire your determination and we admire your commitment.”
He thanked donors, including corporate sponsors for their support over the years.
The Torch Run has raised over $40 million dollars province-wide.
“The funds raised today will support community Special Olympics programs and help more than 26,000 registered athletes in Ontario,” Demkiw said.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Ann Morgan attended the LETR for the first time.
“It has evolved from simply a small run to a broad and comprehensive range of innovative fundraising activities,” Morgan said. “It is a program that is exceptional and unique founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can learn, enjoy, benefit and be empowered by individual and team sports.”
Interim Mayor Jennifer McKelvie said the money raised opens up new opportunities for people.
“These funds help level the playing field and allow these athletes to compete in the sports they love. This could not be more important because Special Ontario Olympic athletes are the paragon of discipline and unwavering spirit,” McKelvie said. “They embody the very best of the Olympics, inspiring others through their courage and commitment to excellence. When I see the torch burning brightly today, I will be reminded of the fire and spirit of these athletes.”
Last year’s Torch Run was dedicated to the memory of Detective Constable Jeffrey Northrup who died in the line of duty in July 2021.
He was a long-time Special Olympics supporter.
His widow, Margaret Northrup, and her daughter Samantha who is a Special Olympics athlete, attended the event.
“Jeff was really proud to be part of this run and we didn’t realize that one day we would find a community and family in Special Olympics,” the widow said. “When Samantha was born, our world was turned upside down and we sought out family and friends to help support us. When our sons joined sports organizations, she would often be left behind.”
The Northrup’s signed their daughter up for Special Olympics swimming when she was four years old.
“All of a sudden, we found people that understood us, athletes that were trying their best and working hard, having fun and making friends,” she added. “I truly think that is what Special Olympics is all about.”
Glenn MacDonell, Special Olympics Ontario President, said the greatest good for the greatest number in Special Olympics takes place locally.
“It is in the Bramptons, Bellevilles and Orillias,” he said. “Our athletes out there know that. What maybe you don’t know is that we are so fortunate in Special Olympics to be the charity of choice for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.”
For the last 27 years, a police agency has hosted the Ontario Games.
Toronto Police hosted the largest Games in 2019 as part of Special Olympics 50th anniversary.
Hundreds gathered for this year’s run and walk starting at Toronto Police Headquarters to support Special Olympics athletes.
BMO Global Asset Management and the Mortgage Company of Canada each donated $10,000, the Toronto Police Association, the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association and CIBC each contributed $5,000, the Toronto Police Services Board donated $2,500, the Toronto Police Senior Officer Association contributed $1,000 and the Police Credit Union donated $500.
Service members bought T-shirts to support the run.
The Torch Run came to Canada in 1987 when Constable Lorne White organized the first event.
The LETR is the most important fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario.