THUNDER BAY -- Thursday’s Special Olympics Torch Run was all about celebrating the athletes, says the organization’s community volunteer co-ordinator.
The rainy run, which took the athletes and an accompanying procession of police officer and cars from Fort William Gardens to city hall, is a testament to their dedication, Denyse Derosiers said.
“They strive so hard with every sport they play. The torch run is a great opportunity to put it out there to people. Everybody has a good time and the athletes benefit.”
Special Olympics gives athletes with learning disabilities a chance to compete in sports, just like everyone else she said, and this improves their quality of life, something everyone should strive for, Desrosiers said.
“Some of them are absolutely amazing and it’s great for them. They’re out there, doing sports that they love and they have no restrictions. They just go for it. I watch them at bowling and I can tell you they’ll probably put me under the table,” she said.
“They’re so good.”
Thursday was also Be a Fan Day, a nationwide celebration of Special Olympics, and the torch run was a perfect fit, said Const. Julie Tilbury, who was joined by members of the Thunder Bay Police Service, OPP, RCMP and Nishnawbi Aski Nation police at a city hall ceremony honouring the athletes.
Tilbury said creating awareness is important for the organization, which holds national winter and summer competitions for developmentally challenged athletes, as well as provincial and local qualifiers.
“People with intellectual disabilities really rely on Special Olympics to give them a sense to be able to be part of the community. They use it for socialization, for fitness. So it’s a really great organization and I think us in law enforcement, to be tied to them and help them with the fundraising and awareness portion is just a really great thing that we get to do.”
She called the local run a really unique event, one that also includes representatives from Corrections Services and the Canada Border Services Agency.
“And for this particular event everyone has put in a ton of effort to come forward and support it,” Tilbury said.
Police and athletes also raised a flag Thursday at city hall to mark the occasion.
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