Betty Coleman is passing the torch virtually this year as the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run raises funds for Special Olympians. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)

Betty Coleman is passing the torch virtually this year as the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run raises funds for Special Olympians. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

With an enthusiastic grin a mile wide, Betty Coleman runs toward the camera with a cardboard torch and says, ‘I’m Betty Coleman from Chilliwack and I’m passing the torch to you!”

The whole thing takes no more than 10 seconds, but Betty has just provided one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Her clip will be combined with many more just like it in a video collage, showing torches being passed across the province virtually where they would normally be passed physically.

The 30th Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics will look and feel different, but RCMP spokesperson Krista Vrolyk believes the spirit of the event remains.

“Normally we all gather at Sardis secondary school and we run together – police officers, Special Olympics athletes and other supporters – we run along Vedder road and we finish at the Pacific Region Training Centre where we showcase our local athletes and celebrate our partnership.

READ MORE: Chilliwack RCMP support Special Olympics athletes

READ MORE: Torch run for Special Olympians comes through Chilliwack

“Running side-by-side with the athletes is an event that we (RCMP) look forward to every year, and I know it’s a highlight for the athletes as well. But because of the pandemic we’ve had to change things up.”

Coleman is all-in on the torch run, no matter what form it takes.

She competes in a long list of Special Olympics sports including bowling (her favourite), bocce ball, swimming, club fit and family fitness.

A lot of what she does might not be possible without the funding that is generated by the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which pays for things like transportation, uniforms and facility rentals.

“The RCMP helps us out a lot,” Coleman says. “The torch run is awesome. I’ve never been able to hold the torch before, but it’s been really cool watching Derek (Trainor) do it last year was cool.

“When they asked me to do it this year, I was like, ‘It’s awesome! It’s so cool!’”

Doing it virtually instead of physically isn’t what Coleman had in mind, but she’s the type of person who sees the upside in any scenario.

“It’s different, but we’ll be getting more funds this year because some people are donating by the kilometre (for each km athletes run on their own), and some people are just donating,” she said. “I’ve raised $300.”

Vrolyk said the Law Enforcement Torch Run, virtual edition, has raised $30,000 so far across B.C. and there is still time to donate.

For more info see specialolympics.ca/british-columbia/ways-give/law-enforcement-torch-run


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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