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Guardians Half Marathon & 5K in the news!
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By Dave Dawson, Orillia Packet & Times
Flame Half Marathon and 5K Race held in Orillia
Almost 350 runners helped raise more than $25,000 for Special Olympics athletes at the inaugural Guardians of the Flame Half Marathon and 5K Race Sunday in Orillia.
“With 20,000 athletes and 10,000 volunteers involved in Special Olympics here in Ontario, events such as these help raise awareness and much-needed funds to bring a life of sport and celebration of abilities to those in our communities with intellectual disabilities,” said Shaun Beaulieu, who sits on the organizing committee and is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service.
Sunday’s event started and finished at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia. Beaulieu said headquarters was chosen as the host site for the event due to its central location and its “beautiful” fall setting. He noted a committee of law-enforcement officials, including members from the OPP, Barrie Police, Sault Ste. Marie Police and Sudbury Police, in addition to both provincial and federal correctional officers, planned the event.
Gary Couture, the OPP’s deputy commissioner of field operations, said the cause — supporting Special Olympics — is an important one for the OPP.
“The Torch Run for Special Olympics is near and dear to us as police officers,” he said. “When you think about the outcomes for these athletes — in part, because of the support that we provide — it’s huge.”
Linda Wilkie, a community co-ordinator and long-time organizer for Orillia and area Special Olympians, said the support of the OPP has been a lifeline for the provincial organization.
“Events like these are so important because they raise funds for all athletes to go to provincial and national games,” she said, noting Orillia sent 20 athletes to the recent provincial championships and, over the years, has helped many go to national and world championships. “The support of the OPP is incredible, and without that support, so much of what we do just wouldn’t be possible.”
Money raised at events like the Guardians of the Flame Half Marathon and 5K Run are dispersed throughout the province to communities where Special Olympians are active. The money is used to help pay for expenses such as travel, accommodations, meals, staff support, volunteer/athlete training, administration, to assist new community programs and for informational/promotional materials and initiatives that open up opportunities to new athletes. Small programs, large programs, big cities and small communities are each treated with the same level of importance when it comes to funding.
It is hoped the Guardians of the Flame Half Marathon and 5K Race will become an annual event, said Beaulieu.
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