The Standard (St. Catharines)

Niagara encouraged to help carry torch for Special Olympics Ontario

Event in its 34th year will be running virtually

- KRIS DUBÉ Kris Dubé is a St. Catharines-based reporter for the Welland Tribune. Reach him via email: kris.dube@niagaradai­lies.com

A Niagara Regional Police sergeant carries the torch on behalf of local law enforcemen­t to support Special Olympics Ontario because it’s a worthy cause.

But Sgt. Aaron Gross also knows first-hand what families who have children with special needs go through, as his son Elliott, in Grade 8, has a disability that leaves him cognitivel­y delayed and non-verbal.

Gross, with the Port Colborne detachment, said this year’s Law Enforcemen­t Torch Run for Special Olympics is being held virtually again, with a goal of raising $34,000 across the province.

The local goal is about $5,000, but he said one civilian NRP staffer has set a personal goal of $10,000.

Participan­ts can register online to sign up, or to make a donation to an individual or team of their choice.

Police officers, Canada Border Services Agency employees, people who work in correction­s — these are the majority of participan­ts, but the event is open to anyone.

“It’s certainly not limited to law enforcemen­t members at all,” Gross said.

People are asked to run, walk, or ride 34 kilometres in support of the event. Participan­ts can tag @Torchrunon­tario on social media and use the hashtags #OVTR and #Torchrunon.

People who sign up can post videos and photos of themselves in action, and those who are unable to fundraise are still appreciate­d by raising awareness.

“Just as important as fundraisin­g is the message of inclusion,” said Gross.

Registrati­on will remain open until June 5.

On June 5, when fundraisin­g ends, Niagara Falls will be illuminate­d red and white, Team Ontario’s colours, in honour of the event. The CN Tower in Toronto will also be lit, he said.

Gross also organizes the local polar plunge that supports Special Olympics Ontario. The event brought in $360,000 across the province earlier this year, also held online.

 ?? SPECIAL TO TORSTAR ?? Niagara Regional Police Sgt. Aaron Gross on the Rainbow Bridge ahead of the annual Torch Run in support of Special Olympics in 2018.
SPECIAL TO TORSTAR Niagara Regional Police Sgt. Aaron Gross on the Rainbow Bridge ahead of the annual Torch Run in support of Special Olympics in 2018.

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