For National Police Week, May 10 to 16, we are thanking our 13,577 Law Enforcement Torch Run members across Canada by sharing some of their stories. These Canadian law enforcement personnel donate their personal time to not only raise awareness of Special Olympics, but also raise critical funds. LETR is the largest public awareness and grassroots fundraising organization for the worldwide Special Olympics movement. Please join us in celebrating their incredible impact on the lives of Special Olympics athletes and their families.
Four-year-old Labrador Retriever Briggs Pearce stole the show at the Vancouver Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC earlier this year.
Participating in the province’s first-ever Puppy Plunge on March 2, the charitable canine earned the sought-after title of “Top Puppy Plunger.”
“He’s the star of the show,” said Briggs’ owner, Constable Jeremy Pearce of the Delta Police Department.
While Pearce has plunged on his own many times before, this year was his most impressive yet, in terms of funds raised.
“I usually raise a couple hundred bucks, but we probably tripled it this year because people like my dog more than me,” Pearce said with a laugh.
Briggs, who is simply Pearce’s best friend and not an official police dog, loved the spotlight and the event – proven in photographs that captured him “smiling from ear to ear” as he raced towards the icy shore.
Although this marked Briggs’ first year supporting Special Olympics BC, Pearce has been involved for the past seven years.
During his third year at Simon Fraser University, Pearce started volunteering for Club Fit, a Special Olympics BC fitness program designed specifically for Special Olympics athletes.
A football player himself, Pearce could relate to the athletes’ love of sport. He continued to volunteer at events and organized his own comedy fundraising night.
When he joined the Delta Police Department in 2015, he immediately got involved with the BC LETR.
He signed up for his first Polar Plunge three years ago as the only member from the Delta PD and has since grown their Plunge Team to 12 Plungers, raising more than $4,500 this year alone. He also volunteers his time to several other fundraisers throughout the year, including the Sports Celebrities Festival and Draft an Athlete.
“You leave feeling better than when you got there,” Pearce said of every Special Olympics/LETR event he attends. “The athletes are just always so positive – and we don’t get that from everybody in society nowadays.”
One of Pearce’s LETR highlights is from earlier this year when he took over the 50/50 fundraiser at a Vancouver Giants game at the Langley Events Centre. He recruited about six athletes to help him and a couple officers sell raffle tickets.
“They did all the work – we were just standing there,” Pearce recalled. “They were going up to people, telling them what Special Olympics means to them and what it’s all about – and they crushed it.”
They raised a record-breaking $8,000 that night.
It’s those moments that Pearce loves – not just raising impressive funds, but seeing athletes in action.
“It gives you goosebumps when you see the athletes, how they’re interacting with the public and promoting their own cause and you see the public open their wallets,” he said. “I love seeing their development, their passion, their enthusiasm and their ability.”
“They motivate me.”
Next on Pearce’s list of Special Olympics accomplishments is launching his own Club Fit program in Delta. While he was set to start the program in April, it’s since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He hopes to get it off the ground once given the all clear from health officials.