Ontario's only Law Enforcement Torch Run Snowmobile Ride in support of Special Olympics hit the snowmobile trails of Sudbury on Sunday. Dozens of police officers and Special Olympics supporters set out from the Sudbury Trail Plan Association facility in Garson for a 65 kilometre ride out to Wolf Mountain lookout to enjoy a bonfire and lunch before the trip back to the city.
Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) Const. Nolan Windle explained that the snowmobile ride was an offshoot on the long-standing Special Olympics Torch Run which has become the favourite charity for police organizations across Ontario. He said as far as anyone knows GSPS is the first police service in Ontario to do the snowmobile ride
"This is our third annual event. We're the first police service to be doing the snowmobile portion of this fundraiser," said Windle. "We are the pioneers of the snowmobile event or for Special Olympics." GSPS said it was pleased to see Ontario Provincial Police officers show up with the sleds to join the ride. Windle said he wouldn't be surprised to see other Northern Ontario police agencies follow Sudbury's example.
As part of the fundraising portion of the event, Windle said all riders make a basic donation.
"So the pledge for a single rider is $20 and you can donate as much as you wish. But just your entry level is $20. And if you have a passenger with you, the pledge is $30."
Windle said many riders bring in larger donations on behalf of friends and supporters and gift cards will be awarded for the best donations.
GSPS Const. Andrew Hinds said much of the success of the ride is thanks to the Nickel Belt Silver Spirits, a local snowmobiler organization in Garson.
"They're all volunteers. And this is the second year they've been participating with us to donate their time and set up our lunches and so on. Further to that the Garson Foodland also donated the hot dogs and so we have some community sponsors that have really chipped in to help us out, and pull this off," said Hinds.
GSPS Chief Paul Pedersen was also in Garson to see the riders off. He congratulated the group for their initiative. Pederson noted that this year is the 35th anniversary of the annual Torch Run.
"That's 35 years of police and our partners working together to raise funds for Special Olympics," he noted.
Pederson also thanked GSPS Constables Windle and Hinds for their efforts at organizing the snowmobile ride.
"They're doing it from the heart. They're doing it because it's the right thing and they're doing it for the right reasons," said Pedersen.
Pederson also reminded the group that once they put their sleds away they can think of getting involved in the annual Polar Plunge taking place on March 4.
The chief said he was also pleased to introduce Great Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre who is also a member of the GSPS police board.
Pedersen said he was happy to see the mayor supporting a Torch Run event. Lefebvre, who was raised in the Kapuskasing area, is no stranger to snowmobiling.
He told the group that he and his wife are avid sledders and was pleased to take part in supporting Special Olympics.
"See you guys on the trail," said the mayor.
Just as the group was heading out, it was explained that Tim Hortons was also a sponsor of the ride and has created a Special Olympics donut, with proceeds being forwarded to Special Olympics Canada. Organizers were able to present a donut to every rider as they were heading out to the trail.