Up on the scaffolding are (left) Alberta Corrections officer Korey Clealand and Cst. Raymond Leonhardt with the Red Deer RCMP engaging the public (from left) Shaylyn Karsten, Odilia and Victor Youngman at the Free our Finest event that kicked off Friday. The two officers will stay at the Wal-mart parking lot throughout the weekend to raise awareness and funds for Special Athletes Alberta. (Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff)

Supporting special athletes

Law enforcement officers do the YMCA

Two law enforcement officers will spend the weekend on scaffolding to raise money and awarness for Special Olympics Alberta in the Wal-mart North parking lot.

As part of Free Our Finest, the officers will entertain the public with music and a little dancing. Donations will be accepted to suppor the 300 athletes in the Red Deer and surrounding areas.

“We try to be really upbeat and have the officers engage the crowd,” said Tracy Duval, supervisor at the RCMP dispatch centre in Red Deer. “We make sure the public has an understanding about Special Olympics and what it does for the athletes and the programs (offered locally). We do that with tons of music, we dance, so if people want to come out and watch the YMCA they can and we get athletes involved.”

Organizers hope to raise about $20,000. The money will go towards special athlete programs, equipment, coaching, and helping athletes to stay healthy and active in the community.

Duval said while keeping socially and mentally active is extremely important for everyone, it is more so for Special Olympics athletes.

“We know for people with intellectual disabilities, it’s important for them to stay healthy and active and socially linked in as well, so it’s about inclusion and we know sports helps,” she said.

The event also allows law enforcement officers another chance to engage with the public.

“It’s a lot of public exposure and knowing from past events, Red Deer loves us, and they specifically come to us and see us dancing and that’s what we are doing,” said Red Deer RCMP Const. Raymond Leonhardt, who is camping out along with Alberta Corrections officer Korey Clealand.

The event has raised more than $100,000 in five years.

Duval said the connection between the athletes and the officers is special.

“They motivate us because there’s pure joy in a lot of the things they do and law enforcement professionals have that positive connection with the public and especially with the athletes and it is so beneficial for us,” she said.

mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

 

Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff Up on the scaffolding are (left) Alberta Corrections officer Korey Clealand and Const. Raymond Leonhardt with the Red Deer RCMP engaging the public (from left) Shaylyn Karsten, Odilia and Victor Youngman at the Free our Finest event that kicked off Friday. The two officers will stay at the Walmart parking lot over the weekend to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics Alberta.

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