June 18th, 2024

LPS officers serving up for Special Olympics

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Police officers will be serving the community in a different way this Friday during a fundraising event in support of Special Olympics.

The Cops, Pops and Pizza Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) fundraiser will take place at Boston Pizza South from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LETR director and LPS constable Braylon Hyggen said Wednesday those in attendance will be served dinner and get their beverages refilled by LPS officers.

“We’ll also be there selling merchandise, which coincides with the teddy bear toss at the Hurricanes game that night, so come on out and grab your teddy bear and take it to the Hurricanes game after you have a bite to eat,” said Hyggen.

Since it has been a few years since the last one, Hyggen said this is a big push to get moving again and motivated.

“We have had a drop in our athletes in Alberta in the last couple years, so we’re trying to get that back up,” said Hyggen.

He said they also need to bring the number of volunteers up.

“The law enforcement torch run has been going for 41 years and has raised $950 million worldwide, so we’re getting close to $1 billion in revenue in fundraising for Special Olympics, so this is kind of a push for trying to get athletes back and volunteers involved. We’re very excited to be back in person,” said Hyggen.

He said that this is also an opportunity to be involved with the community in a positive way.

“Being a police officer you deal with a lot of the negative stuff in the community when you’re dealing with arresting people, so to be out there in the community and doing good and being out there helping our local Special Olympics athletes, it’s always fun to be seen in a better light than when we’re showing up to arrest somebody,” said Hyggen.

Hyggen said that is not the only positive aspect of the fundraising. He shared with the media the result from a previous LETR where a local athlete was able to obtain employment after the event.

“One of our local Special Olympics athletes attended (and) helped out there and from that event he was able to get a job with the Boston Pizza South and he is still working at Boston Pizza South for the last five years,” said Hyggen.

He said stories like this one showcase the inclusion seen across the city where more people with disabilities are employed.

“There are a lot of people that have intellectual disabilities that are employed which is great, but we have a long ways to go,” said Hyggen.

Hyggen explained the funds raised through the LETR help Special Olympics in many ways, from events to having locations where they train and play at, and renting gymnasiums and fields.

“We have a lot of events coming up in the next couple years. In February we have the provincial games in Strathcona up by Edmonton, so funding will go towards helping the games take place as well as athletes attend there,” said Hyggen.

He added that in February 2024 the Canadian National Winter Games will take place in Calgary and in 2026 the Summer National Games will take place in Medicine Hat.

“It’s a great opportunity for Alberta these next few years to take a front row with Special Olympics across the nation,” said Hyggen.

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