For Kellie Walker, her journey with the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and Special Olympics (SO) started by simply buying a shirt and joining a local run. Eight years ago at this run, she met some local SO athletes with their beaming smiles and signature high fives; from there she has been hooked ever since.
While working as a Correctional Officer at the South West Detention Centre in Windsor, Kellie has also become a stalwart at LETR events in the area. Along with her connection to the SO athletes, she also credits “the camaraderie amongst the LETR family” for keeping her involved. As she explained, “we are dedicated law enforcement personnel who want to enrich the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.”
Kellie also acknowledges that she has grown in her role at work since she became involved with LETR and SO. “I feel it makes me a better officer because I have empathy for marginalized people; I see in the justice system. We all have relatable qualities or experiences. It is the humanness that these athletes bring to light for me and for that; I have endless gratitude.”
Recalling back to a Special Olympics track event in Windsor years ago, Kellie fondly tells the story of a race that came down to the last 50 metres where one of the athletes unfortunately stumbled and fell. Two of the other athletes in the race helped the fallen athlete up and they went on to cross the finish line together. It was at that moment where she saw the true reflection of the Special Olympics Athlete Oath, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” She also gained a life lesson from this event, “That taught me to see beyond the win. It is about the journey in trying to do something challenging.”
In 2016, Kellie was presented with the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run (OLETR) Rising Flame Award, recognizing her exceptional promise of leadership and continued contribution to the OLETR. She encourages anyone in the law enforcement field to get involved with LETR. “Get involved because your heart will never be the same. It is something you need to experience because words cannot describe the joy you feel.”
We would like to extend our thanks to Kellie and her fellow volunteers from South West Detention Centre. Your positive impact on the lives of our Special Olympics athletes is incredible!