Hundreds of runners, walkers, and many canine companions turned out Sunday at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia for the annual OPP Guardians Run, all in support of the province-wide Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Ontario.
“Today is a great day and the best weather day we’ve ever had for the run,” said Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique who welcomed people to the event and also ran in it.
Today’s run, which saw more than 300 participants take part, started at OPP General Headquarters on Memorial Avenue, and featured a 5-km and a 10-km route option.
The run started out with the torch being brought in by an OPP cruiser, before transferring to the hands of Carrique, Monique Shah, and Orillia's Stephen Graham, one of the most decorated Special Olympics athletes in the country.
After the torch was brought in and the opening ceremonies completed, the runners took off on the route with one goal in mind, all hoping to conquer the fundraising goal of $50,000 for this event.
Throughout the late morning and into the afternoon, runners crossed the finish line outside the OPP Police Academy, all while being cheered on by fellow runners and a crowd of supporters.
After crossing the finish line, each participant received a medal and then could snack on the food and beverages that were provided.
“Today not only means a day of fundraising, but it also means a day of community, friendship, inclusiveness, support and, most of all, a day of fun,” said Graham, a provincial, national and world champion Special Olympics speed skater and multi-sport athlete.
Graham noted that events like these are a great way to build rapport with the OPP.
“The OPP are great community partners when it comes to Special Olympics and when people see us here at events in conjunction with the OPP, it helps to build and strengthen that connection we have with the OPP, and that will never go away," said Graham.
Every year, the OPP Guardians Run raises funds for Special Olympics Ontario with the goal of ensuring there will be ongoing programs and opportunities in and around the community for those with intellectual disabilities.
To date, the LETR has raised close to $2 million and this year, they’re hoping to add to that number with the Orillia event's total, which is yet to be tabulated.
A link to all the participants and their route run times can be found here.