THUNDER BAY - The games are less than a month away but organizations wanting to see every athlete have a rewarding and memorable experience are continuing to donate money to help make it all possible.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run donated $44,250 to the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, which will be held in Thunder Bay at the end of the month.
“I think once you meet the athletes and spend time with them, it’s an easy sell,” said Tara Bottan, local zone coordinator with the Law Enforcement Torch Run. “Seeing them grow and knowing we are contributing to that and knowing we will continue with that through these games, it’s probably the best feeling you could ask for.”
All the money was raised by police services and organizations throughout Northern Ontario, including the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Canadian National Railway Police, Canadian Pacific Railway Police, and local police services including the Thunder Bay Police.
“It’s a great opportunity right now with the games being here in Thunder Bay at the end of February for us to give back specifically to the games,” said Thunder Bay Police Service chief, Sylvie Hauth. “It speaks volumes not only to Thunder Bay Police officers but officers in the region who give up their time and enjoy the work that they do and do this on an ongoing basis to fundraise for a very special cause.”
According to Bottan, the Law Enforcement Torch Run is the biggest grassroots fundraisers for the Special Olympics in the world.
“To know this came from our officers and our communities is especially rewarding,” she said. “The goal of Special Olympics and our relationship with the Law Enforcement Torch Run is to make those funds available to athletes everywhere so that sport is accessible for everybody.”
Barry Streib, games chair with the organizing committee for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2020 said the donation from the Law Enforcement Torch Run means a lot to organizers but even more to the athletes.
“We know they would be just thrilled to hear about this news today,” he said. “Everything goes back to the games, but we are determined to have a legacy that will go back to our Special Olympics programs here in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.”
Streib added donations help ensure that all athletes have the best experience possible, have fun, and meet lots of new friends while competing in the games.
The Draft an Athlete program, which helps pay for transportation, food, and accommodation for athletes, is still accepting donations and Streib said they will be accepted right up to the start of the games and after.
Athletes can be drafted for $500 and Streib said they are approximately $60,000 short of the $300,000 goal.
“We still have some fundraising to do. It certainly contributes to our overall goal,” he said. “We are getting close. The Draft an Athlete program, there is an opportunity for the community to contribute.”
The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games will be held in Thunder Bay from Feb. 25 to 29.