Torch Run raises awareness and funds Special Olympics

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const.  Noel Middleton and Kailee Mitchell, a Special <a class=Olympics athlete from Brantford, prepare for Friday’s law enforcement torch run at the Parc des Expositions in Paris. The local run, now in its 35th year, involves members of Brant OPP and Brantford Police, who raise money for Special Olympics Ontario. Similar races are held around the world. Michelle Ruby” class=”embedded-image__image lazyload” src=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/nexus/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/br.0920-br-torch.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288″ srcset=”https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/nexus/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/br.0920-br-torch.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=288, https://smartcdn.gprod.postmedia.digital/nexus/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/br.0920-br-torch.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=576 2x” height=”750″ loading=”lazy” width=”556″/>
const. Noel Middleton and Kailee Mitchell, a Special Olympics athlete from Brantford, prepare for Friday’s law enforcement torch run at the Parc des Expositions in Paris. The local run, now in its 35th year, involves members of Brant OPP and Brantford Police, who raise money for Special Olympics Ontario. Similar races are held around the world. Michelle Ruby jpg, BR

PARIS Kailee Mitchell is more comfortable with a basketball, but on Friday she circled the track at the Paris Exhibition Center carrying a torch symbolizing Special Olympics.

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Mitchell, a member of Special Olympics Brantford, competes in several events, including swimming and track and field, but it’s on the field that she feels most comfortable.

“It’s a good way to let out a little anger,” she said of basketball. “I’m an aggressive player.”

Mitchell led a team of police and other law enforcement personnel, along with other Special Olympics competitors, to the 35e Ontario’s annual law enforcement torch run.

The event, held across the province and around the world, is the largest public awareness and fundraising vehicle for Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with developmental disabilities. and physical, providing year-round training and activities to five million participants in 172 countries.

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Law enforcement personnel and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” at the opening ceremonies of local competitions and provincial, national, regional and world games.

Each year around the world, more than 97,000 law enforcement personnel carry the torch, which symbolizes courage and celebrates diversity.

Since its inception, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised hundreds of millions for Special Olympics. In Ontario alone, $3.3 million was raised in 2019 and $1.1 million in 2021.

Money is invested in community programs that help pay for expenses related to games, travel, accommodations, meals, staff support, volunteer and athlete training, and administration.

“It also creates awareness (of the Special Olympics and its participants) and promotes inclusion and acceptance,” said Derek Spence, Ontario Torch Run leader, who was at the event. Friday, hosted by Brantford Police Detective Christine McCallum and Const. Jonathan Bueckert of Brant OPP.

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Jim Kruis, community coordinator for Special Olympics Brantford, said there are about 225 local athletes competing in a variety of events.

“We’re always trying to get more people,” Kruis said.

His son Ben, who has Down’s Syndrome, started participating when he was eight years old. He is now 23 years old.

Several thousand dollars were raised during Friday’s torch run.

Additionally, the Special Olympics Ontario Truck Ride event, held in Paris on Saturday, raised $81,000 for the cause. About 50 truckers from across Ontario collected pledges and traveled in a trailer from Paris to Putnam, west of Ingersoll, and back.

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