Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

National team of law enforcement runners spreads message of inclusion in Final Leg

17 July 2014

The torch was heavy but hearts were light as members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg team took to the streets of the Lower Mainland for an exhilarating four days of running toward the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games and raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics.

“It was fantastic. The community support was amazing,” said Final Leg runner Jordon Prokuda, a Border Services Officer with the Canada Border Services Agency
who works at the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey.

The July 5 to 8 event was the first national Final Leg run in B.C. in 24 years, kicking off the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games in Vancouver. This very special Torch Run brought together 25 law enforcement members and two Special Olympics athletes from across the country to run 45 kilometres through 15 communities, carrying the Flame of Hope and spreading an inspiring message of inclusion and respect.

“Just to see people honking horns, giving a friendly wave, and the heartfelt and sincere encouragement we saw from the communities, that’s what keeps us going and encourages us to push ourselves further in the run when our legs are aching and the sweat is dripping from our brow,” said Prokuda, who has been involved with the LETR for four years.

Pictured at right: Final Leg runners in Coquiltam

The Final Leg team included law enforcement members from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.

On the team were 14 B.C. runners from municipal police departments, the RCMP, CBSA, Correctional Service of Canada, and Military Flight Police. Also part of the team was Special Olympics BC – Delta athlete Kim Davies.

Davies’ hope is that the run raised awareness about Special Olympics among people with intellectual disabilities so they will try out Special Olympics programs. She has been an SOBC – Delta athlete for more than seven years, and will be competing in swimming at the upcoming 2014 BC Summer Games that run July 17 to 20 in Nanaimo.

As the Final Leg team ran through the Lower Mainland, building toward the 2014 National Games, more than 400 law enforcement members came out to join in the run in their communities.

Day 1 kicked off in Chilliwack, with runners from the Chilliwack RCMP and the Pacific Region Training Centre joining in. The Abbotsford leg included runners from the Abbotsford Police Department, with APD Deputy Chief Constable and LETRProvincial Director Rick Lucy leading the way with local athlete Percy Walker to the finish line at the Berry Beat Festival.

Members of the Mission RCMP hit the pavement for the Mission leg, and Ridge Meadows RCMP joined the chanting Final Leg team to run through Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge and over the Golden Ears Bridge in the drizzling rain.

Pictured at left: The Final Leg team with local runners and athletes in Pitt Meadows

In the evening, Final Leg team members had the amazing opportunity to carry the Flame of Hope onto the field at BC Place to help kick off a Vancouver Whitecaps FC game.

As part of their generous support, the Whitecaps FC held an impromptu fundraiser before the game at their dunk tank, raising several hundred dollars for the LETR.

On Day 2 North Vancouver RCMP members weathered torrential rain on runs through their community with the Final Leg team. Delta Police Department members joined in for the Delta and Ladner leg. In Richmond, CBSA and Richmond RCMP members took off with the Final Leg team from the landmark Richmond Olympic Oval to the Richmond Cultural Centre Plaza, where the Richmond Mandarin Lions Club generously presented a cheque to the LETR in support of Special Olympics BC for $1,000.

At almost every leg, local Special Olympics athletes enthusiastically joined in to run alongside law enforcement members.

“I love when we clear a space for them in the middle, and they’re so proud to be there and so excited,” said Final Leg runner Rogine Battel, a Support Services Supervisor with the Mission RCMP. “And I love chatting with them along the way to find out what sports they’re doing. They’re always so proud of their sport and it’s just infectious.”

On Day 3 the Final Leg team ran to the Peace Arch – a first for the Torch Run – with MLA Amrik Virk, formerly of the Surrey RCMP, helping set the pace.

RCMP E Division and Surrey RCMP members joined in the Surrey leg that wound to the B.C. RCMP headquarters. The New Westminster route had an amazing turnout of about 80 local runners thanks to members of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, New Westminster Police Department, and recruits from the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Coquitlam RCMP members joined the run from Port Coquitlam to Coquitlam, and Port Moody Police Department members laced up for the Port Moody leg, with the Mayor of Port Moody Mike Clay riding along on his bicycle.

The last day of the Final Leg opened with Burnaby RCMP members joining the Final Leg team on their run to the Special Olympics BC office in Burnaby. The Vancouver leg, generously sponsored by the Vancouver Police Foundation, included a stop at the Vancouver Police Soccer and Service Club annual Youth Soccer Camp at Strathcona Park, where several hundred children took a lap with the team.

The Vancouver leg wrapped up at the Vancouver Police Department on Cambie Street with a cheering crowd and sunshine, where VPD Chief Constable Jim Chu presented the LETR with a cheque for $1,000 in support of Special Olympics BC.

Final Leg runner S/Sgt. Joanne Wild of the VPD, who has been involved with the BC LETR for more than 18 years, was a key organizer of the Torch Run.

“I think as a team we gained a broader understanding of what Special Olympics is,” S/Sgt. Wild said. “And we gave people we spoke with and reached a broader understanding of what the Torch Run is and what Special Olympics is all about as far as providing sporting opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities and having more inclusivity for them.”

Pictured at right: S/Sgt. Joanne Wild lights the torch with an athlete in Deep Cove

Wild said the Final Leg brought together law enforcement members with a similar passion and allowed them to share ideas about the LETR to bring back to their communities.

The crowning moment of the four-day run saw the Final Leg team carrying the Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Team members passed the torch to SOBC – Surrey athlete Kellie Robertson and Chief Chu who lit the Games cauldron before a roaring crowd to signal the start of Games.

“I encourage everyone to get involved in the LETR,” said Final Leg runner Cst. Sheri Lucas of the Oak Bay Police Department. “I know it can be time consuming but it’s as little as reaching out to the people you know for fundraising, or just spreading the message about the Torch Run and Special Olympics and coming out to watch the athletes compete. The more people who get involved the more money we can raise and help to sponsor these athletes to obtain their goals and their dreams.”

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the organizers of the 2014 LETR Final Leg:

  • VPD S/Sgt. Joanne Wild, Sgt. Dave Colton, and Supt. Dean Robinson,
  • S/Sgt. Dave Savoy and S/Sgt. Tom Norton of RCMP E Division,
  • Surrey RCMP Corp. Michael Dunn of the Surrey RCMP,
  • S/Sgt. Debbie McLeod of the Delta Police Department, and
  • Correctional Officer John Randle of the Correctional Service of Canada

We are grateful for all their hard work and passion for this cause!

We would also like to thank the generous sponsors of the 2014 LETR Final Leg:

  • Vancouver Police Foundation,
  • Canadian Pacific Railway,
  • Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police,
  • Versaterm,
  • Canadian Direct Insurance, and the
  • Union of Canadian Correctional Officers

More photos

More BC LETR information

Final leg runners Jordon Prokuda and SOBC – Delta athlete Kim Davies at a Whitecaps game

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