Members of local law enforcement agencies will be raising funds for Special Olympics in Alberta with the annual Cops, Pops and Pizza Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraiser. The event will include members of the Lethbridge Police Service, Alberta Sheriffs, RCMP, Coaldale and District Municipal Enforcement and numerous peace officers from surrounding rural communities serving pizza, selling stuffed animals and collecting donations.
Lethbridge Police Service Constable Braylon Hyggen says Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraisers held by law enforcement agencies worldwide have raised over $1 billion from 1981 to 2023. Hyggen says these types of fundraisers significantly impact the creation of an inclusive space in the community where they can show their abilities.
“We have a lot of Special Olympic athletes here in Lethbridge, and this creates funds for our local athletes. The venues, the uniforms, and the equipment that they use. It’s a great impact for allowing these athletes to play sports.”
He adds that all the funds raised from these sorts of events in Alberta stay in the province, with most of the money staying within the community.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a group of law enforcement members who help carry the Flame of Hope to various Special Olympic competitions locally, nationally, and internationally. Hyggen says he has participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for 15 years and in that time, he says he has been to many events worldwide, but what got him hooked was an event in St. Albert, Alberta.
“I had been involved for two or three years at this point, and the athletes were coming out onto the floor, the opening ceremonies were happening, and there was one athlete that was standing in the stands. He wasn’t a part of Team Canada, but he seemed more excited than the athletes that were participating, so it just showed the true meaning of sport where he wasn’t playing, but he was excited as they were.”
Hyggen says the Friday, December 1st event is being held before the Lethbridge Hurricanes Teddy Bear Toss game, so those going to the game can support two causes at once by getting some food before the game and buying a stuffed animal to throw on the ice. The event will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Boston Pizza on Lethbridge Mayor Magrath Drive South, and there will be police vehicles on display.