Ahead of December’s National Special Olympics Games in Belmopan, the organization dedicated to raising awareness of persons with intellectual disabilities through sports accepted a donation from a group of law enforcement organizations ,which worked together to raise funds through the annual torch run preceding the Games.
The Police Department’s Community Policing Unit, Belize Defence Force, Customs and Excise Department and Immigration and Nationality Department together raised some $6,000.
According to Special Olympics board member Allan Auil, the donation comes at an important time.
“Special Olympics is an organization that caters to persons with intellectual disabilities, by providing sporting opportunities for them.
We also try and find a means to provide advocacy for those persons. We also arrange for doctors and nurses to provide screening, free of cost, for all our athletes.
The monies, that the Law Enforcement Torch Run is handing over today, is going toward all of those activities, including getting our athletes to the World Games next year. That’s going to be held in Los Angeles, California. It’s going to take a massive effort for us. The funds that we receive today will go a long way in helping us.”
Allan Auil noted that the organization can use hands-on help from volunteers in addition to monetary consideration.
Special Olympics is also working to end stigma and the use of the word “retarded” to pejoratively describe persons with intellectual disabilities.
According to Sergeant Elroy Carcamo, Officer in charge of Community Policing for Eastern Division, the idea is to bring Belize’s security agencies together to promote a worthy cause.
“Over the past two years, the Special Olympic Law Enforcement Torch Runners [was] introduced to Belize.
We started out with the Law Enforcement Torch Run with the Police Officers in Punta Gorda.
In 2013, it was expanded and we had all our law enforcement agencies, which includes Immigration, Customs, Coast Guard, BDF and Police coming together. We fundraise in order to get funding to assist this organization.”
Fundraising activities have already kicked off for this year and will culminate in the Torch Run, tenatively scheduled to start in Corozal Town and finish in the nation’s capital. Belize has 237 Special Olympics athletes registered and is putting together a team to participate in next year’s World Special Olympics Games in Los Angeles, California.