Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

World Games Final Leg a joyful, inclusive experience

24 May 2017

Special Olympics BC – Coquitlam athlete Mandy Manzardo and Oak Bay Police Department Constable Sheri Lucas say helping kick off the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria was the experience of a lifetime.

Manzardo and Lucas were part of the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg team that carried the Flame of Hope through 47 cities, towns, and communities across Austria and into the World Games Opening Ceremony.

Lucas said seeing the Flame of Hope enter the WM-Stadium Planai in Schladming was awe-inspiring.

“It was raining but the stands were full and the energy was incredible!” Lucas said. “The smiles on the athletes’ and participants’ faces could have lit up the world!”

Manzardo said she had a great time travelling across the scenic Austrian countryside and spending time with her friendly, supportive law enforcement teammates.

“It was the best time of my life – that’s all I can say!” Manzardo said. “It was so much fun!”

Manzardo says when she was in high school she was made fun of because she has an intellectual disability. Now, Manzardo says she gets emotional when she thinks about how law enforcement officers from around the globe welcomed her as a friend and an equal during the Final Leg. She says it gives her hope that the world can be a better place.

Manzardo says she tears up when she thinks about how much some of the LETR members she met in Austria do for Special Olympics athletes.

“I saw how dedicated these officers are and how they will go back to their hometowns and still dedicate themselves to supporting Special Olympics,” Manzardo said. 

Pictured above right: Oak Bay Police Department Constable Sheri Lucas (front right) helps carry the Flame of Hope during the Final Leg in Austria. 

Lucas said she made many incredible memories during the Final Leg and she is very grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the event.

“I don’t think I have smiled so much in my entire life, nor has my heart ever been so full of life and energy. It just confirmed that this is where I should be – helping spread awareness and encouraging more law enforcement members to get involved,” Lucas said.

Manzardo said representing SOBC athletes at a World Games Final Leg was a true honour and she would do it again in a heartbeat.

SOBC – Coquitlam athlete Mandy Manzardo (front left) all smiles during the 2017 Special Olympics World Games LETR Final Leg.

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