The North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run (NC LETR) for Special Olympics recently presented state-level awards to outstanding individuals and law enforcement agencies that support Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) at three regional NC LETR Conferences held in Raleigh, NC on March 4, Atlantic Beach, NC on March 25 and Asheville, NC on April 9, according to Lieutenant William Davis of the North Carolina State University Police Department, State Director of the Torch Run. Conference general sessions were held in person, following protocols for safe social distancing, with an option to attend virtually via Zoom.
The following law enforcement officers and agencies were honored with the 2020 Guardian of the Flame Award. Eligibility for the Guardian of the Flame Award is open to any individual actively involved in the NC LETR. The award is based on the nominee’s ingenuity, motivation, commitment and dedication to the efforts of the Torch Run in North Carolina.
Major Robert Spatorico of the Fayetteville Police Department held the position of agency coordinator in 2020 and led his agency to raise $27,651 in support of the NC LETR, raising a total of $352,392 since 2003. As a past state co-director of the Torch Run in North Carolina he continues to lead his agency in community fundraising initiatives, including the Publix Torch Icon Campaign, area golf tournaments, Cops on Top®, Tip-A-Cop®, Plane Pull® and Over the Edge.
Lieutenant Derek Dubay of the New Bern Police Department has led his agency to raise $8,808 in 2020 as agency coordinator, totaling $66,953 in funds raised since 2003. Lieutenant Dubay and the New Bern Police Department participate annually in the Publix Torch Icon Campaign, host a successful 5K race fundraiser and are active in a local tennis tournament fundraiser, Tennis with the Pros.
The following law enforcement officers, agencies and athletes were also honored with 2020 NC LETR awards:
Most Improved Agency – Boone Police Department
In 2020, the Boone Police Department raised $29,102, an increase of $10,182 in funds raised from 2019. 2020 was their highest fundraising year in history, despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Their top fundraiser, the Natchez Trace Parkway Bicycle Ride, raised a total of $28,445.
Fundraising Excellence – Foothills Correctional Institution
Foothills Correctional Institution continues to be a leading example of creativity and dedication, securing their place in the top 10 of NC LETR Agency Rankings at a fundraising total of $26,757 for 2020, outpacing all North Carolina Department of Public Safety agencies in the state. Their partnership with QVC® was instrumental in executing a successful 2020 holiday sale fundraiser.
Top New Agency – Union County Sheriff’s Office
Raising $7,566 in 2020, the Union County Sheriff’s Office was recognized as having the top fundraising location for the Dunkin’ Donuts Icon Campaign, which raised $5,542. They were also instrumental as leaders in the SONC Truck Convoy state fundraiser.
Sheriff Mike Roberson of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office was awarded 2020 Sheriff of the Year, leading his agency at the top of the NC LETR Agency Rankings. As the top agency, the Chatham County Sheriff’s office raised $54,435, its third year in the top four agencies. Their office hosts the longest running golf tournament in North Carolina for SONC, in addition to a Polar Plunge and the Kickin’ Chicken Fundraiser.
Chief Andy LeBeau of the Boone Police Department was awarded 2020 Chief of the Year, leading his agency in raising $29,102 in 2020, their highest fundraising year yet. This is the agency’s first year reaching the top 10 in the NC LETR Agency Rankings. Chief LeBeau plays an integral role in the planning of the annual Natchez Trace Parkway Bicycle Ride.
Regional Director for Western Region LaDonna Browning of the North Carolina Department of Corrections was awarded 2020 DPS Official of the Year. Browning was one of the first wardens at Foothills Correctional Institute to advocate for staff fundraising opportunities for SONC, encouraging staff to purchase NC LETR shirts, which they were permitted to wear on Fridays. In her new role as regional director, she continues to support staff of the Foothills Correctional Institute and prisons throughout the western region.
The Jacksonville Police Department was awarded the 2020 Director’s Award, raising $15,971 in 2020 and a total of $208,630 since 2003. Participating in state-level fundraisers, including Plane Pull and Over the Edge, their agency also supports the Publix Torch Icon Campaign and recently hosted a successful virtual Torch Run Relay event. The Jacksonville Police Department also has a long history of supporting their community in annually hosting their National Night Out 5K.
The Raleigh Police Department was also awarded the 2020 Director’s Award, raising $22,049 in 2020 and a total of $800,000 since 2003. In the top 10 of NC LETR Agency Rankings, their agency hosts a successful golf tournament, Cops on Top events and supports the Publix Torch Icon Campaign and the Dunkin’ Donuts Icon Campaign. Annually, officers of the Raleigh Police Department take a lead position in the Final Leg for the Torch Run Relay.
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 5.4 million children and adults around the world who have intellectual disabilities. 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
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 20 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 www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.