- To raise funds for Special Olympics Ontario
- To increase public awareness of Special Olympics Ontario
- To involve Law Enforcement personnel in a community base, province-wide program
- To set up community partnerships with sponsors, Special Olympics volunteers and local supporters, with a shared vision – helping athletes.
WHO WE ARE
The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) is the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics. Known honourably as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. Worldwide annually, more than 97,000 dedicated and compassionate law enforcement members carry the “Flame of Hope,” symbolizing courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.
WHAT WE DO
WHY WE DO IT
As LETR Founder and retired Chief Richard LaMunyon (Wichita, Kansas) once said, “What started in 1981…as a flicker of hope for Special Olympics has now become a roaring flame of stability for Special Olympics athletes worldwide.” Through the partnership of LETR and Special Olympics, we provide opportunities for athletes to empower and transform themselves, their communities and the world. LETR is changing the future for people with intellectual disabilities and lighting the way for acceptance and inclusion.
All funds raised through Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run events are directed into program support that directly affects all community Special Olympics Ontario (SOO) programs. Funds are then put into community programs and help pay for various expenses including games travel, accommodations, meals, staff support to the field, grants to new community programs, volunteer and athlete training, administration and information/promotional materials and development initiatives like School Programs which opens up opportunities to new athletes. It's important to have one provincial fundraiser that helps SOO create an equitable playing field. At SOO, small programs, large programs, big cities and small communities are treated with the same level of importance. The development of Special Olympics Ontario is directly related to the success of the Torch Run.
With the endorsement of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the first Law Enforcement Torch Run in Canada was held in 1987 and generated $100,000 in funds with the participation of Law Enforcement personnel from Southern Ontario. Nationally, the run has become an annual event in ten provinces and the Northwest Territories. In Ontario alone, in excess of $46 million has been raised, establishing it as one of the most profitable Torch Run relationships in the world.
The success and support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run over the years has been phenomenal. Since the Torch Run began its partnership with Special Olympics Ontario, the number of registered athletes has grown from under 4,000 to greater than 23,000 athletes today.
As a result, SOO can essentially look into the future with security and recognize that it is possible to continue to expand its services to the increasing number of athletes.