Giving Back to the Community – Part 3

From red ribbons and footballs to hot dogs and ID disks the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office offers much more to citizens than only physical security and protection, but a host of other contributions involving educational programs, free services and multiple ways they give back to the community as a whole. Over three editions, these contributions have been highlighted to overall inform the public.

One of the LPSO’s largest contributions to the community involves how they give back, which includes their Ride for a Cause fundraiser and their involvement with the local Special Olympics, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and more.

Special Olympics

One way the LPSO gives back to the community is by the part they play each year in the LaSalle Parish Special Olympics held in the spring at the Jena High School Guy Campbell Memorial Stadium.

At the event, dozens of students from LaSalle and Catahoula parishes gather to participate in walks, runs, ball tosses and long jumps and to have a great time. Dozens of spectators cheer for the athletes, high fives are given and medals are awarded on a podium.

Special Olympics, according to their official website, is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability and that through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success and the athletes inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.

In the past, LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Deputy and D.A.R.E. Instructor Jenny Parker has carried the Special Olympics Torch around the track during the opening ceremonies and parade of athletes.

Sheriff Scott Franklin calls out all the winners at the medal podium for all events. The parish trustees cook hot dogs for all participants and Parker organizes the bagging and distribution of the lunches along with the JHS Anchor Club.

“These kids are very special to me and I just want to make their day as special as I can,” Parker said regarding her involvement in the parish Special Olympics. “We enjoy being involved in the community in this way and hope to continue in the future.”

Law Enforcement Torch Run

Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Harvey places a Torch Run medal around the neck of Good Pine Middle School student Gabe Conley while LPSO Deputy and D.A.R.E. Instructor Jenny Parker looks on prior to the start of the LaSalle Parish’s second annual Louisiana Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) from the courthouse in May 2018.

The LPSO is also involved with the Special Olympics on a state level through fundraising and participating in the Louisiana Law Enforcement Torch Run or LETR each spring for the past two years.

The LETR unites officers from law enforcement agencies and corrections departments across the state in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Louisiana through collecting corporate sponsorships, selling T-shirts, running and hosting unique fundraising events.

“Through the run, I hope there is more awareness for Special Olympics and I hope there are more officers involved,” LaSalle Parish LETR Coordinator and LPSO Deputy Denny Pittman said. “It’s only a mile run. Everyone can do a mile. But this run isn’t about the officers it’s about raising money for Special Olympics. It’s for the athletes. Some of them can’t run, so we’re running for them. Anyone who has been involved with the Special Olympics knows how life-changing it is.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (L.E.T.R.) for Special Olympics is the largest grass roots international fundraiser for Special Olympics. Since it began in 1981, its mission is to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement.

L.E.T.R. Cenla Area Coordinator Detective Wendy Charrier of the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office said the torch run for Cenla includes Rapides, Catahoula, Concordia, LaSalle, Avoyelles, Vernon and Grant Parishes and she believes that there is no greater reward as a law enforcement officer than to give back to the community.

“The L.E.T.R. is not just a run. We exist to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics. We hold various fundraisers throughout the year,” L.E.T.R. Cenla Area Coordinator Detective Wendy Charrier of the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office said. “We hold pistol matches, garage sales, t-shirt sales, raffle sales and a host of other events. This is a national level event where the torch is run through each state and ends at the Summer Olympics Games at each state location.”

Each summer, law enforcement officials carry the Flame of Hope across the state culminating with the Torch Run Final Leg and the lighting of the cauldron to officially open the Special Olympics Louisiana Summer Games in Hammond. This torch relay involves more than 1,500 law enforcement officers and personnel representing more than 200 law enforcement agencies across Louisiana.

As a representative of the LPSO, Deputy Pittman has participated in the torch runs for Cenla Area Torch Run Week as well as participated in the Special Olympics Louisiana Summer Games in Hammond.

For more information, contact LPSO Deputy Denny Pittman at 419-3976 or visit www.letr.org

Other Ways They Give Back

One of the other ways the LPSO gives back is through Ride for a Cause – a special annual or bi-annual motorcycle ride fundraiser with proceeds going toward those in need. The ride takes place over approximately two hours around the parish and all proceeds from donations and the registration fees go toward the fundraising amount.

Sheriff Franklin said the ride fundraiser started because a family was in need and it has continued with at least one ride a year.

“We had learned about some children in the parish that would have to go without one Christmas, so the first ride was something we threw together to help the family,” Franklin said. “Through the process we learned of a network of needy families at Christmas, so we joined with the APPLES program because they have the information and resources to help us and the rides have been to raise money for those in need.”

Franklin said he and the LPSO deputies and staff feel their involvement in the community extends past the duty of their jobs.

“We are glad to support these very worthy causes and be in a position to help those in need,” Franklin said. “There’s no better investment in our parish than to invest in our children. We are public servants at heart, so all these avenues are great ways to give back to our community.”

The LPSO also provides a golf cart escort service during Howdy Neighbor Day at Jena Town Park and purchases the throw outs for all school football and basketball games in the parish.

This three-part series about what the LPSO offers to the community is complete with this edition. See the two prior editions for the first parts to this story. For more information, call the LPSO at 992-2151.

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