North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics honors outstanding individuals and agencies with awards

The North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics recently presented state-level awards to outstanding individuals and law enforcement agencies that support Special Olympics in North Carolina at the 2018 Torch Run conference in Atlantic Beach, according to Claudia Morgan, co-director of the Torch Run and officer with the Winston-Salem Police Department.    

Law enforcement officers and agencies honored at the conference include:

Dennis Mecum of the Department of Public Safety won the 2017 Bill Dalton Unsung Hero Award for his contributions to the Torch Run and Special Olympics in spirit, dedication and enthusiasm in an effective, but unheralded fashion. In more than 10 years of involvement with the NC LETR, Mecum has mentored new agencies and officers and was essential in getting the Department of Public Safety to join the Torch Run fundraising efforts. He has served on the North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run Council since 2012 and in that time has distinguished himself as a trusted leader and key component in the movement.   

Assistant Superintendent ASCO Valerie Wilcher-Ross of Craven Correctional Institution was honored with the 2017 Department of Public Safety of the Year award for her support of the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run. Under her leadership, Craven Correctional Institution has raised at least $6,000 over the past few years. Her guidance has encouraged the facility management team to also support NC LETR fundraising efforts. Her dedication to Special Olympics athletes is extraordinary and she serves as an example to others.  

Captain Andrew LeBeau of the Boone Police Department was honored with the 2017 Guardian of the Flame award for his ingenuity, motivation, commitment and dedication to the Torch Run. Boone Police Department consistently increases their yearly fundraising total thanks to LeBeau’s leadership. The Boone Police Department raised over $23,000 in 2017 due in large part to their annual Blue Ridge Parkway bike ride, an event spearheaded by LeBeau that takes fund raisers the full 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Detective Jeremy Parks of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office was also honored with the 2017 Guardian of the Flame award for his ingenuity, motivation, commitment and dedication to the Torch Run. Since 2012, Parks has led the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office’s fundraising efforts through a very successful golf tournament, Tip-a-Cop events and work on the Triad Chill, a regional Polar Plunge. 

Fayetteville Police Department was honored with the Torch Run Director’s Award for their significant and consistent fundraising efforts within the Torch Run.  Through the combined efforts of the entire department, the Fayetteville Police Department has raised more than $240,000 total for the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run and more than $42,000 in 2017.  In addition to donations collected for T-shirts, this agency hosts multiple special events and participates in a variety of unique fundraisers. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was honored with the 2017 Most Improved Agency award for increasing their new revenue the most since the 2016 fundraising campaign. In 2017, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department raised more than $32,000 more than in 2016 due in part to merchandise donations, multiple Cops-on-Top and Tip-a-Cop events and a very strong fundraising campaign with Publix. All of their fundraising took place without incurring any expenses. In addition, they gave invaluable support to the 2017 Special Olympics North Carolina Fall Tournament held in Charlotte, participating in the Circle of Honor during the Opening Ceremony and assisting with logistics throughout the event.    

Graham Police Department was honored with the 2017 Best New Fundraiser award in recognition of their Ghost Car Challenge, during which officers competed to raise the most funds to win the right to drive the agency’s newest vehicle. This innovative new approach raised more than $17,000, helping the Graham Police Department increase their yearly fundraising total by $15,000 since 2016.    

Foothills Correctional Institution in Morganton was honored with the 2017 Top New Agency award for raising the most funds in their first year. Foothills Correctional Institution raised over $14,000 for Special Olympics thanks to a golf tournament, raffles and merchandise donations.

Robin Callaway of Charlotte, Dustin Edmondson of Greensboro and Casey Phillips of Raleigh were also recognized for their service as Athlete Ambassadors on the North Carolina Torch Run Council. 

The 2017 Chief of the Year award was previously presented to Chief John Letteney of the Apex Police Department at the 2018 North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police Conference. This award recognized his dedication to the mission of the North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run. He gives his full support to each of his agency’s fundraising efforts and has joined the Circle of Honor at the Special Olympics North Carolina Opening Ceremonies for the past two years.  His leadership is critical to the success of Torch Run efforts through the Apex Police Department.

The 2017 Sheriff of the Year award will be presented at North Carolina Sheriff’s Association Annual Training Conference in July 2018.   

“The hard work and fundraising efforts of the Law Enforcement Torch Run officers allows us to provide first class sports training, competition, and development for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers,” said Morgan.  “These individuals and agencies have made an immeasurable impact on the lives of Special Olympics NC athletes.  Their efforts have helped make Special Olympics North Carolina one of the best sports programs in the world.”

To obtain a photo of any of the NC Torch Run award winners, please contact, Rachel McQuiston, Special Olympics NC vice president of communications, at 919-719-7662, ext. 110.

To learn more about the LETR efforts in your area, contact Leslie Moyar, Director of Development for the NC Torch Run, at 1-800-843-6276 ext. 123. (NC Only) 

About the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is an international fundraising campaign for Special Olympics. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition for more than 5.7 million children and adults around the world who have intellectual disabilities. In 2017, the NC Torch Run efforts resulted in over $1.2 million being raised for SONC.  Nearly 40,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics in North Carolina, making it one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is officially endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the National Association of School Resource Officers, NC Association of School Resource Officers, NC Department of Justice and the NC Department of Public Safety.

About Special Olympics North Carolina

Throughout 2018, the Special Olympics movement is celebrating 50 years of joy, courage and empowerment. Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.  SONC offers year-round training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports-based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at Engage with us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and YouTube

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