Ridge Meadows RCMP and Special Olympic athletes ran through downtown Maple Ridge Wednesday morning for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics BC.
The run raises money in support of Special Olympic athletes and awareness for the cause.
About 15 runners from the Ridge Meadows detachment took part in the event, in addition to four Special Olympic athletes from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
They ran a loop around Memorial Peace Park, before turning south along 224th Street to Lougheed Highway, heading east. Then, they turned north along 227th Street before cutting west along McIntosh Avenue and heading back to the detachment – where there was a barbecue waiting.
Ridge Meadows Const. Amy Wilcott, who has taken part in the run for the past 12 years, said she does the run because she enjoys seeing the athletes come out and hear about what the run means to them.
She meant athletes like David Stevenson, who gave a speech at the end of the run.
The 27-year-old has been involved in the Special Olympics since 2011. He is not only an athlete, he told the crowd proudly, but also a Real Canadian Superstore employee.
Stevenson explained to those gathered that the first sport he ever tried was five-pin bowling – one of his favourite sports.
Since then he has taken up curling, basketball, 10-pin bowling, bocce ball, floor hockey, and power lifting.
One of his favourite moments, noted Stevenson, was winning a trophy for five-pin after bowling a 272 score in a single game.
“It made me feel proud,” he said.
Katherine St. Amand has been in the Special Olympics since she was 13 years old. Now 29, she said she enjoys the camaraderie very much.
“It’s fun, and the fact that it gave me a place where I could meet new friends,” she said.
Matthew Bueschkens, 36, who was only 18 when he joined the Special Olympics, enjoys all of the sports. He participates in skiing, swimming, curling, weightlifting, five- and 10-pin bowling, bocce ball, baseball, and golf.
This is his third time taking part in the torch run in Maple Ridge.
During his speech, Stevenson pointed out the things he enjoys about the Special Olympics.
“I made new friends and have had lots of laughs and great conversations with them. I learned new skills in different sports that I wouldn’t have had a chance to try otherwise,” he noted.
“I can be part of a team where everybody supports me and makes me feel accepted and everyone can participate and feel successful regardless of their ability,” continued Stevenson.
And, he said, he finds it exciting to travel to new places and he feels proud representing his local team. He also likes that the Special Olympics allows members to participate in as many sports as they like, take part in competitions, and provides them with equipment and uniforms.
Finally Stevenson shared the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
He thanked the officers who took part in the torch run and the volunteers.
“Your hard work in raising funds and awareness gives athletes like me opportunities to live happier, healthier lives,” he said.
Ridge Meadows RCMP are hoping the event raises $2,000 in support of the Special Olympics.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics BC has raised more than $4 million in British Columbia since 1990, and more than $700 million for Special Olympics programs around the world.
The B.C. torch run has also helped increase the athlete base to more than 5,200 registered athletes in 55 communities around the province.
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