As Law Enforcement officers, Special Olympics DC athletes, family members, supporters from all across the DMV lace up their running shoes for the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run 5k run/walk on October 6th in just four short weeks, we’re asking our community what the Torch Run means to them.
Hear it directly from Lieutenant Shaquinta Gaines,
member of the Metropolitan Police Department, and mother of Special Olympics DC athlete Maddie Gaines. Maddie recently graduated from Jackson-Reed High School in Northwest, DC, and has competed in Special Olympics for 5 years, participating in track and field, bowling, basketball, flag football, and soccer. In 2022, Maddie traveled with Team DC to the USA Games in Orlando, Florida, running track on the national Special Olympics stage!
What does Maddie being in the Special Olympics mean to your family?
Where do I start? Maddie being chosen to compete in Special Olympics was life-changing for us. It was a great deal because it allowed her to compete nationally. Also, we knew she could compete at such a high level and win! Maddie is a gem and possesses many talents, but the experience of participating in Special Olympics was one of a kind!
How long have you been a part of MPD?
I have been in MPD for 21 years. Maddie’s father, Officer Marcus Gaines has been an officer for 26 years. Maddie’s brother, Daryle, is also a DC Police officer for one year now.
What does being a law enforcement officer mean to you?
Being a law enforcement officer is a noble profession. With that, it’s a commitment to justice and serving citizens by providing them with service when they need it most. It’s also been an avenue for me to be in the community and be able to connect people to needed resources. As a DC Native, my passion is to be present, intentional, and impactful to everyone I meet.
How have you seen Maddie grow and change through Special Olympics?
Since doing Special Olympics, Maddie has gained autonomy. Her competitive spirit has expanded since then. She has become more independent, confident, and willing to experience new things, something she would never do before. Allowing her to share this opportunity has helped her become more social. Only learning of her diagnosis of Autism for about five years, she has embraced being different but knows that she can still achieve anything despite it.
What is your favorite thing about Special Olympics?
Special Olympics builds camaraderie among people with disabilities. The programs give the athletes hope, inspire change, and champion inclusion. Special Olympics helps athletes embrace the fact that they are different. It gives them hope and pride.
Lastly, why is the Torch Run important to the DC Community?
The Torch Run is vital to the DC community because it exposes Special Olympics athletes to the community. It also builds relationships with law enforcement. The Torch Run is also crucial because MPD recognizes Special Olympics and the diversity, equity, and inclusion it models, while supporting it to raise awareness to accept people with disabilities.
Supporters from all walks of life are welcome to join us in the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run 5k. All Special Olympics DC athletes are invited to run/walk the race at no cost. Sign up as an individual or create your team today! The $35 registration fee includes the 2023 commemorative t-shirt. Visit www.dctorchrun.org!