I’ve been a police officer with the Fairfax County Police Department for 30 years, the last six as Chief of Police. I’m proud to serve alongside so many dedicated men and women, not only in Fairfax County but across the Commonwealth of Virginia, who are devoted to protecting and serving their communities.
I’ve run in the Law Enforcement Torch Run every year since beginning as a SWAT officer in the mid-1980s and I’ve served as a regional director for the past few years. I’m now honored to serve as the State Director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. More importantly, I’ve been privileged to meet some of the incredible Special Olympics athletes – and learn from them.
Special Olympics is about respect, dignity, unity, self-esteem, empowerment and inclusion. And through the universal language of sports, Special Olympics has demonstrated that people with intellectual disabilities can and will succeed if only given the opportunity – and opportunity is all the athletes desire. The athletes’ oath, which we should all embrace, best states their ideal:
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
When you see Special Olympics athletes in action, their passion and commitment, their joy in competition, and their pride in their accomplishment and in seeing within themselves their potential, are all clearly evident. Also evident within the athletes is the self-realization that respect and inclusion bring – a feeling we all desire and deserve. And perhaps, if we all looked hard and worked toward a common goal, we can envision a world in which all persons are respected and treated with dignity.
I’m proud of law enforcement, and the many wonderful sponsors and volunteers, for supporting and embracing Special Olympics as a unique opportunity to make a difference and give back to our communities. The signature event, the Torch Run, is a highlight of the year as officers and athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” along several routes. But, the Law Enforcement Torch Run program is much more than just the run; it encompasses a variety of other fundraising events throughout the year, including T-shirt sales, donations or pledges for runners, corporate donations, and special events such as Polar Plunge, Plane Pull, rappelling events and golf tournaments.
And the funds raised are only part of how we can all help. As members and leaders within our communities we have the opportunity and responsibility to serve as ambassadors to help raise awareness for a wonderful cause and to help others learn to be tolerant, accepting, inclusive and respectful of all. Your support of Special Olympics does make a difference – you do not have to believe me, just watch the athletes or speak with one of them or their families.
Thank you for caring, and please join us in supporting Special Olympics, and the exceptional athletes and their families.
Colonel David M. Rohrer
Chief of Police
Fairfax County Police Department