Helping build and support Special Olympic dreams
For Barry Cookson, the Perth County OPP auxiliary unit liaison, it was all about giving back to the community – to those who are now under his supervision who, like he and many of his colleagues, began their policing careers by volunteering as members of one of the OPP’s auxiliary units.
And to all the Special Olympics athletes in Ontario who train hard to represent the country around the world.
On Saturday, Cookson led a group of Perth County OPP auxiliary unit members, in conjunction with the West Perth Fire Department, during a community car wash and bake sale in Mitchell that helpd raise funds and awareness to support Special Olympics athletes in Ontario.
“I’m a former auxiliary myself and, by getting involved, this is my way of helping the people who are trying to become full-time police officers and those special athletes trying to fulfil their dreams,” he said.
Saturday’s event was just one of dozens the OPP has organized over the summer across Ontario as part of its Law Enforcement Torch Run initiative – a program that provides sports and social opportunities to more than 20,000 people with intellectual disabilities in the province.
“Normally, the OPP hold torch runs and, in the past, the Perth County OPP have organized other events like baseball tournaments to raise money, but this year we wanted to do something a little bit different and we decided to do a car wash,” Cookson said.
At a price of $10 per vehicle, the local event was able to raise close to $250 during the three hours volunteers operated the car wash at the Mitchell fire station on St. David Street.
And while that may not seem like a large amount of money, Cookson knows the added contributions of all the different OPP divisions certainly will make a difference in the lives of these athletes, who are now aiming to take part in the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In fact, the Law Enforcement Torch Run program has raised over $36 million since its creation 30 years ago.
“We know this is just a small part of what it takes to these athletes to be involved in the Special Olympics,” Cookson said, “but it certainly makes us feel good to help with whatever we can and do our part in helping those athletes to realize their dreams of competing.”
Connor Chambers, front, and Kevin Thurston, Perth County OPP auxiliary unit volunteers, help clean a van during a carwash Saturday organized by the local OPP and the West Perth Fire Department in support of Special Olympics. Perth County OPP auxiliary unit liaison Barry Cookson washes a van Saturday, Sept. 9. The auxiliary unit, in conjunction with the West Perth Fire Department, held a car wash over the weekend to raise funds in support of Special Olympics.