The passion for helping athletes with intellectual disabilities dates back decades for Saanich police Const. Lisa Bruschetta.
In 2000, she started running in the Victoria Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which benefits Special Olympics BC. Not long after, the event started to fizzle just by the nature of officers shifting around different departments.
It came back into sharp focus when she started work in Saanich and collaborated with a co-worker to revive it in 2013. Then they formed a committee that now boasts three Greater Victoria events to raise funds and awareness for the athletes.
“We really built on the Torch Run and started doing the Free the Fuzz events then. Now we have Polar Plunge, we’re building with our community so it’s wonderful,” Bruschetta said.
After a couple of virtual years, the run returns as an in-person event on June 4 in Oak Bay.
The Polar Plunge for SOBC was also held virtually. Free the Fuzz, in which officers camp out atop scaffolding for days, is expected to return next year. All three events fall under the LETR banner.
Bruschetta has a personal connection, her brother-in-law took part in Special Olympics years ago and her kids and husband now volunteer to help the events run smoothly. “We’ve made it a complete family affair,” she said.
Plus they’ve made friends with athletes over the years, inspired by their ability to embraced surpass their athlete’s oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.”
“They’re just an amazing group of athletes and they pride themselves when it comes to having team spirit … being inclusive. They’re positive and they create so many amazing friendships,” Bruschetta said.
The 2.7-km route starts at Windsor Park at 10:15 a.m. and finishes at Willows Park.
Visit letr.crowdchange.ca/13680 to register or donate, or just show up at 2451 Windsor Rd. on Saturday – after all, everyone’s welcome.
“We really want to make it an everyone welcome event because we are, we’re known for being inclusive.”