Cowboy hats, maple leaves, and police uniforms from around the world. Such was the scene in Calgary, Alberta last week during the International Law Enforcement Torch Run® Conference as nearly 1000 dedicated Law Enforcement Torch Run officers, Special Olympics program leaders, and Torch Run volunteers gathered for the annual conference and to celebrate the fundraiser’s 30th anniversary. At the conference, appropriately themed “Reaching New Heights,” Torch Run leaders announced they had raised over $42.6 million for Special Olympics in 2011! Today, the cumulative amount raised by the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) totals over $410 million. No wonder there was so much energy and excitement throughout the conference!
The LETR began 30 years ago with founder, Chief LaMunyon, and five other officers carrying the Torch for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita. From there, a movement was born. The LETR has evolved into more than simply carrying a torch. It has become a worldwide community of Law Enforcement officers rallying to support Special Olympics, the impetus for millions of new friendships around the world, and a series of events including Torch Runs, Polar Plunges, Tip-A-Cop events, and Over the Edge fundraisers, just to name a few. And As Chief LaMunyon so accurately stated in his opening remarks, Law Enforcement and Special Olympics are “a perfect match.”
The conference had a packed agenda with general sessions, panel discussions, incredible videos, motivational speakers, athlete performances and speeches, awards and recognitions, Unity Sports events, and even a Torch Run through Calgary!
Katie Saunders, a Special Olympics athlete from Alberta who spoke throughout the conference, said the LETR commitment helps us [Special Olympics athletes] “win at life.” As Kirk De Fazio, CEO and President of Special Olympics Alberta said, “Sport takes impossible situations and makes them possible through Special Olympics. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is helping making this a reality.”
After an exciting couple of days in Calgary, the LETR programs around the world have embraced and accepted the challenge from Mike Peretti, Chairman of the LETR Executive Council, to increase the annual revenues to $50 million by 2015. Special Olympics and the LETR are looking forward celebrating another set of milestones next year at the LETR conference which will be held Indianapolis, IN.