Peel Regional Police Staff Sergeant Jay Bouwkamp has worn many caps in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and Special Olympics (SO) world. Bouwkamp has held positions as an Ontario LETR Zone Coordinator, Chair of the Peel Regional Police Torch Run committee and former Georgetown SO club manager. However his most important role is the father of Jenna, his 18 year old daughter who is an athlete with Special Olympics. “Special Olympics provides an opportunity for those with physical and intellectual disabilities to participate in sport and engage in their respective communities. I have seen first hand the positive impact SO has not just with the athletes but with rallying the community to support inclusion and opportunities for the special needs community.”
Jay’s connection to SO is undeniable and he credits this with driving him to be involved in so many facets of the movement. “The enthusiasm of the athletes is amazing. Their drive and positive outlook despite any challenges they face is remarkable. ‘High fiving’ the athletes when entering the arena during a ‘Final Leg’ will always be a major highlight.”
For all of his amazing work with Ontario LETR, Jay received the ‘Award of Honour’ in 2016. This award recognizes the exemplary commitment of fundraisers and/or organizers under Ontario LETR. Asked for his favourite memories during his time with LETR/SO, he listed his involvement with the Peel Polar Plunge, his organizing role during the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games and of course his ‘Final Leg’ memories of the smiles, cheers and high fives.
In his roles with Ontario LETR, Jay has been instrumental in recruiting “new blood,” to the movement. He explains LETR to his colleagues with a passion that is easy to get on board with. “LETR is an amazing law enforcement community support mechanism and my extended family. It is an opportunity to truly give back to your community by supporting, engaging and encouraging individuals with intellectual disabilities.”
The work of Jay and the rest of the Peel Regional Police Torch Run committee continues to be instrumental in the movement and goes to support the 26,000+ athletes in Ontario.