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.
Saskatoon Police Service’s Sergeant Joe Tataryn got involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) within his first month of becoming a police officer in 1998.
While there are a number of charities supported by police across the country, LETR hit close to home.
Growing up in Humboldt, his mother Alice was instrumental in the creation and administration of an organization that ran several group homes as well as a business for people with intellectual disabilities. Tataryn spent a summer working at the business and got to know many of the organization’s members, including one who lived in a suite in his home.
“LETR just seemed the most obvious to join up with,” he said. “The work Special Olympics does is so important.”
“Also you get to be with Special Olympics athletes all the time – they are the happiest people that you’re ever going to meet. Just being with them makes you happy.”
Tataryn has gone above and beyond as a Saskatoon LETR member. He helped bring the World’s Largest Truck Convoy to Saskatchewan nearly 15 years ago and has been taking the lead on it ever since. In the event’s peak, there were more than 60 trucks making the three-hour trip from Saskatoon to Regina in support of Special Olympics. It continues to raise about $20,000 each year.
In 2019 alone, he participated in every LETR event across the province, from the Truck Convoy to Cops and Crepes and Free our Finest, which involved him sitting atop scaffolding in front of a Walmart for 52 hours as he raised funds for the cause.
“The satisfaction that you’re going to get from LETR and the athletes will be worth every moment you spend,” said Tataryn. “As a police officer, typically in the media and often times in person, we’re berated and it makes it feel like we’re not appreciated, but then you just spend a few moments at a LETR event and you know that’s not true.”
Special Olympics athletes are always excited to see Tataryn and he’s just as excited to see them – proven in a photo of a number of athletes giving him a group hug and Tataryn smiling from ear to ear.
“The look on my face captures exactly why I am involved,” he said. “It’s overwhelming and satisfying.”
“I understand why my mother was involved in this field.”