Dear NC Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics® leadership,
We hope you are doing well during these difficult and unprecedented times. Know that during uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, you are in our thoughts, and we hope for the best as it relates to the health and safety of you and your family. We want to update you on the impact that the coronavirus has had on Special Olympics and Torch Run efforts in our state.
On March 16, Special Olympics International (SOI) announced it wants all Special Olympics Programs, including Torch Run efforts, to cancel all in-person events through May 31, 2020, at which point the situation will be reassessed for updated guidance. The decision to extend this social distancing period was made in light of the most recent direction provided by the CDC. SOI’s CEO noted that since the coronavirus pandemic is quickly spreading across the USA and national borders, the global footprint of Special Olympics necessitates a proportionate response. Special Olympics North Carolina is complying with SOI’s request.
Unfortunately, this news means that all local county Spring Games are cancelled as well as the 2020 SONC Summer Games scheduled for May 29-31, 2020. Rescheduling Summer Games to later in the year is not possible given the complexity of organizing the event and the fact that future coronavirus cancellations may be extended beyond May. This also means that all Torch Run relays in May will not be held. We will work with the NC Torch Run Council in the coming weeks to determine options that may allow for a modified relay later in the year.
We ask that you encourage your donors and sponsors through calls and emails to continue to support your Torch Run efforts because we will need the funding for Special Olympics events scheduled for later in the year. If you continue to offer t-shirts in exchange for donations, please deposit the funds you collect in the SONC Torch Run account at Wells Fargo Bank as soon as possible. For the time being, we cannot conduct special event Torch Run fundraisers that encourage gatherings of people until after May 31 or until such time that local health officials determine public gatherings may resume. This means that Cops-on-Top, Tip-A-Cop, and other events should be rescheduled for later in 2020. The Plane Pull scheduled for April 25 at RDU International Airport is also being rescheduled for later in the year. As you reschedule your special event fundraisers, please complete this event notification form to let us know your plans.
The impact of this pandemic is far reaching across communities and organizations, and Special Olympics is no exception. The absence of organized sports providing an outlet for physical activity, fitness and wellness education, and health care accessibility has serious implications for the population of people with intellectual disabilities that is already at risk. Furthermore, we know that camaraderie shared among teammates, the mentoring of coaches, and the opportunity to compete translate to joy, purpose, and a sense of belonging for Special Olympics athletes. The isolation they are experiencing during a season of social distancing is exactly what our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resolved to overcome.
While we are making every effort to connect with our athletes through online resources right now, we will be anxious to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. Critical to our readiness and seamless transition will be the continued support of our funding partners, as having the necessary revenue in place will minimize further disruption of programming. And when the timing is appropriate, we have an exceptional force of volunteers who stand ready to engage.
We will keep you updated and encourage you to see our coronavirus updates on the SONC website at WWW.SONC.NET.
In the meantime, please take care of yourselves,
Lt. Bill Davis, NC State Campus Police
Director, NC Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics ®
Keith L. Fishburne
Special Olympics North Carolina