Torch run brings in record haul

Although the sky overhead was gloomy, more than 20 participants in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics had smiles on their faces Wednesday evening.
The torch run, from the Civic Centre to Tim Hortons, originally was scheduled for this past Sunday but it was rained out.
“We’ll be here Wednesday, rain or shine,” Gabby Hanzuk, a volunteer/coach with local Special Olympic athletes for the past 17 years, had vowed.
But the weather delay also was a chance for some to continue their fundraising efforts, which is what 20 athletes did to raise $5,330.
That total will reach close to $6,000 when you add in the OPP’s contribution, which was about $500 through the selling of T-shirts and from a barbecue.
“At least this will give me a couple of more days to get some more money,” Joyce Gosselin, who won a gold medal and two silvers at the 2005 Special Olympics Winter Games in Nagano, Japan earlier this year, had reasoned.
This year’s fundraising efforts, which carried over a three-week period, is the most ever collected by local Special Olympic athletes, who are not supported by the government.
In fact, they had never broken $4,000 in any of the previous years.
“I was just going door-to-door and phoning people,” noted Gosselin, who raised $1,338. “My goal heading in was to get $1,000 or more.
“This money comes back to us, which is what we need and why we’re doing it,” she added.
“We’re appreciative in around six million ways,” Hanzuk said of the OPP’s support for Special Olympics. “They’ve raised around $6 million over the past 15 years [across Ontario].
“And our athletes and volunteers were amazing this year, [which] shows how much we are supported by our community.”
“As far as I can remember, the OPP has been involved with the Ontario Special Olympics,” said Fort Frances OPP Cst. Guy Beaudry.
“It’s a way to give back to the community, and it gives you a chance to meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet,” he added.
The local Special Olympic organization boasts 50 athletes, with 15 volunteers helping run their training and other events.
“This is essential to the athletes, and all the money we have raised goes directly to our community,” stressed Hanzuk.
Their fundraising efforts won’t stop with Wednesday’s torch run, either, as they will be holding a car wash at Subway this Saturday starting at 1 p.m.