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Officers camp out on top of scaffolding for Special Olympics Alberta

Law enforcement officers will camp out all weekend in Red Deer to raise funds for Special Olympics Alberta.
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The Law Enforcement Torch Run is hosting Free Our Finest this weekend, where officers will camp on top of scaffolding constructed next to the Walmart in Parkland Mall. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Law enforcement officers will camp out all weekend in Red Deer to raise funds for Special Olympics Alberta.

This is the 12th year of the Law Enforcement Torch Run’s Free Our Finest event, where officers will camp on top of scaffolding constructed next to the Parkland Mall Walmart.

“We’re raising money and awareness for Special Olympics, through merchandise sales and donations,” said Korey Cleland, an officer at the Red Deer Remand Centre and co-chair of the Law Enforcement Torch Run’s central region.

“It all goes towards local athletes right here in Red Deer. It helps with coaching costs, equipment costs and basically anything that will reduce the financial burden on the athletes.”

RCMP officers from the Red Deer and Drayton Valley detachments will also be a part of Free Our Finest throughout the weekend.

“This is one of the biggest events we do every year,” said Cleland.

“We’re starting to become well-known in the city for this event. People come by and see us every year – we love it.”

The event typically raises about $20,000 each year.

Jerry Tennant, Special Olympics Red Deer chairman, said events like this are a tremendous help for local athletes.

“This is one of our biggest, if not the biggest fundraiser of the year. It goes a long way to helping us meet our budget for our facility costs, uniforms, travel, training for coaches,” Tennant said.

“Thanks to the Law Enforcement Torch Run people, we take in quite a bit of money during the year. It helps us pay all of our expenses.”

Many of the athletes’ lives revolve around Special Olympics, Tennant noted.

“It’s basically their only opportunity to be involved in sports. It’s for any individual with an intellectual disability from 10 years old and up – we have some who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s,” Tennant said.

“For a lot of them, it’s their whole social life too. Their friends are in Special Olympics – we do have social activities as well as sporting activities.

“Of course when COVID was around, it was devastating for them (because Special Olympics was unable to operate). But now we’re back in a full-swing and hopefully getting back to our full numbers of about 300 athletes and 50 to 60 coaches.”

The law enforcement officers will be at the site until Sunday at 3 p.m.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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