City of Wetaskiwin raises thousands in third annual Free Our Finest fundraiser

Law Enforcement Torch Run, Special Olympics continue awareness partnership

In its third year in the Wetaskiwin community, the Free Our Finest Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) charity event saw four local first responders spend two days on a scaffolding platform outside the Wetaskiwin Walmart Supercentre in an effort to help raise funds for Special Olympics Alberta.

The event kicked off Sept. 8 as Wetaskiwin RCMP Cst. Jim Jones, CPO Nick Sahl, South Pigeon Lake paramedic Shawn Moffitt, and Millet Fire Department member James Gilbert were ‘arrested’ outside of the Walmart as they were brought in to serve their time — 30 hours — for the fundraiser. This year the event raised approximately $12,000.

The men opened the event to the public with their versatile YMCA dance routine as the first donations rolled in. The event was also set to include a family movie, vehicle demonstrations, RCMP drag cars, the RCMP explosive unit, a Wetaskiwin Fire Department smoke house, as well as a silent auction.

“This is the third year we’re doing this event,” said Blain Fuller, program convener with Wetaskiwin Special Olympics, during the opening ceremonies.

“The object is the next two days we’ll be up here raising funds for Wetaskiwin Special Olympics,” he added.

Differing from the Paralympics, the Special Olympics offers a myriad of programs for athletes to participate in every day, rather than every four years.

Last year in Alberta, over $467,000 was raised across the province.

“Law Enforcement Torch Run is our largest partner with Special Olympics and we’re honoured to be partnered with them,” said Edie Dixon, director of fund development with Special Olympics Alberta.

“These events go right across the province. We have 30 affiliates across the province and torch runs in almost every community,” she added.

Internationally, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics is the largest grassroots fundraiser Special Olympics. More than 85,000 law enforcement officers from 10 Canadian provinces, three territories, 50 United States, and 46 countries participate.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca