Thirteen years ago, Raffaeli (Raff) Tassone was introduced to the world of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) in the lunchroom of the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre. That weekend, he took part in his first LETR. The energy, unity and passion had Raff hooked and since then, he has been a regular presence at LETR and Special Olympics events in the Thunder Bay area.
It didn’t take long for Raff to recognize the impact that these LETR events had on the athletes and volunteers of Special Olympics when seeing the smiles and listening to the stories of his new lifelong friends. “Special Olympics means inclusion, acceptance, diversity, understanding, friendship and support,” expressed Raff. “Although we may not all look, sound or appear alike, all human-kind hearts are filled with joy and pride during moments of success and perseverance. That feeling is infectious to all individuals surrounding these moments.”
Like many, Raff will never forget his first Final Leg experience. Running along side his LETR comrades into an Opening Ceremony full of athletes, coaches, family and friends. “I will never forget the energy in the building as well as the excitement from all of the athletes as we high-fived them while bringing the torch in,” said Raff. “I met an athlete during the ceremony who told me how excited he was to be at the Games and how much he appreciated us being there. He then gave me the biggest hug as he jumped up and down. Unforgettable.”
Raff has been instrumental in recruiting others to get involved with LETR and the Special Olympics movement. “Most people don’t realize that one person can truly make a difference.” He uses the example of Chief Richard LaMunyon who was one person that had a vision which became LETR as we know it today. “One person can create something amazing, one person joining such an impactful team that LETR is today can be life changing!”
We can’t thank Raff enough for his work alongside all of the LETR volunteers from the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, all for the benefit of the athletes of Special Olympics Ontario!