Bryan McMillan’s Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) journey began four years ago when revered LETR volunteer S/Sgt. Jody Armstrong became his direct report within Kingston Police. Jody had a keen eye on Bryan to join his incredibly successful LETR team in Kingston and soon brought him to his first Final Leg at the Special Olympics Ontario School Championships 2018 in Peterborough. As Bryan recalls, “Like so many others, I never looked back.”
Since then, Bryan has become a dynamic presence at all Ontario LETR events and has played a key role in the Kingston LETR team continuing to flourish in their support of Special Olympics athletes. “I have seen first-hand what LETR means to athletes and families at the local, provincial and national level and am extremely fortunate to be able to give back to Special Olympics from an LETR perspective.”
On a personal level, Bryan’s involvement with Special Olympics goes back a lot longer than his beginnings with LETR. His sister Dawn has been an athlete with Special Olympics for the past 25 years.
“My personal experiences have helped me realize what’s really important to our athletes and has allowed me to bring a different outlook on fundraising opportunities, Final Leg commitments, and supporting any event possible. Creating public awareness of Special Olympics is our most important job, and I believe if done properly, this increases our fundraising efforts and provides a sense of inclusion between LETR and our athletes.”
Dawn has worked alongside the Kingston Police LETR team to help with fundraising and awareness efforts. Her and Bryan were also featured presenters at the recent 2020 Ontario LETR Kickoff Conference in Kingston. For Bryan, his message about Special Olympics is consistent, “Special Olympics to me is about awareness, driving social change, and building acceptance within each of our communities for all individuals with an intellectual disability.”
During the Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games 2019 in Toronto, Bryan encountered a moment which he will never forget. He visited the Sobeys Fan Zone in his #1 Dress Uniform and ended up in an epic dance off with an athlete who had no shortage of dance moves in his arsenal. “It took one little wave from him to get me on stage in my dress uniform. He then put all my dance moves to shame!”
Organic moments like Bryan’s dance off are at the core of what makes being involved in LETR so exceptional. This is just one of many moments he shares as he tries to help grow the LETR team in Kingston and across Ontario. “Unlike other charities, LETR is able to not only fundraise millions of dollars, but we have the opportunity to get involved by running the Final Legs, handing out medals, and best of all, interacting with the athletes. The smiles, high fives, hugs, and pure joy that the athletes share with LETR members, is enough to re-charge the batteries and make us remember why we do what we do!”
Bryan cannot help but show his joy as he sums up his time involved with LETR, “I am so thankful that I took the leap and joined the LETR family. It has made me a better police officer and person.” We are also very thankful to have Bryan and the whole Kingston LETR team, their impact on the great athletes of Special Olympics is unequivocal.