Help­ing build and sup­port Spe­cial Olympic dreams

The Beacon Herald - - LOCAL NEWS - JONATHAN JUHA STAFF RE­PORTER BEA­CON HER­ALD

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.”

PHO­TOS BY JONATHAN JUHA/THE

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.

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