Since getting involved with Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) in 2016, Ryan Johnston has made a huge splash within the organization. While attending college for law enforcement studies, Ryan got involved with LETR though the late Ted Farr’s Annual Easter Road & Mall Tolls in Peterborough. Like many others, Ryan found himself hooked, eager to somehow get involved further.
Upon gaining his role as a Correctional Officer for the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, Ryan eventually became an unofficial representative between LETR and Ontario Correctional Services. During this period, Ryan sold Torch Run apparel including t-shirts and shaker cups as well as leading events such as the Cops and Cowboys campaign in support of Special Olympics athletes. In 2020, Ryan assisted with the set-up of Polar Plunges with the Ottawa Police and OPP, where his Ottawa Corrections team raised the most money of any team ($2,435). With Ryan’s help, the 2020 Ottawa Polar Plunge went on to collect over $20,000 in donations.
This past year, Ryan was asked to take over the duties of Zone 2 Coordinator. Previously, Bill Dickson of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) held this position – one of Ryan’s longtime local mentors. “Bill and others further opened my eyes to this organization with its sense of community and the special bond between law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes,” said Ryan. “I am enormously proud to represent Ontario Corrections in such a supportive way in our communities.”
The duties that come along with being Zone 2 Coordinator have not stopped Ryan from supporting LETR in other ways! Ryan continues to support Special Olympics athletes through merchandise sales such as the Corrections K9 Hero Pups and encouraging virtual participation in LETR events. Moreover, Ryan has significantly gained LETR participation from within Ontario Corrections in the Ottawa and surrounding area, formulating an Ontario Eastern Region Corrections committee. Setting an example of how successful virtual events can be, the newly formed Ontario Eastern Region Corrections committee raised $3,000 during their virtual Polar Plunge in March 2021. “Forging growth in Zone 2, encouraging participation from services/agencies, increasing revenue for the organization, and supporting our Special Olympics athlete has been my goal,” said Ryan. Well, it is safe to say Ryan has achieved that goal and then some!
Special Olympics means something different to everyone. For Ryan, he noted that “it is still running with my dad (former OPP) as a kid alongside other members of law enforcement with our amazing athletes, working towards a common goal.” That memory has stuck with Ryan and encouraged him to be a part of the cause in a larger way. “The sense of inclusion and admiration as we supported one another while building friendships is something very important to me that I will never forget,” said Ryan. “I am so proud to do my part and bring even more success to this charity, our athletes, and their families.”
Reflecting on his time with LETR, the sense of family within the organization has truly played a part in Ryan’s dedication to the Special Olympics movement. “I still think I have yet to see the full magnitude of joy this charity can bring to the world, its athletes, and supporters,” claimed Ryan. “It is remarkable what has been done, I can only imagine what we accomplish next!”
As a true advocate for LETR, any opportunity Ryan has to push others to get involved, he takes! “The wealth of happiness this organization brings from its athletes, events, and organizers is truly contagious,” said Ryan. “There is always something new to experience and the networking as well as the sense of community either locally, provincially, or nationally is something you can’t put into words.”
It is with great gratitude that we thank Ryan for his outstanding work thus far with LETR. Your positive impact on our athletes makes a difference in their lives each and every day. We can’t wait to see what you do next!