The Law Enforcement Torch Run NWT (LETR-NWT) is plunging into 2019 and its 13th year with new leadership.
RCMP Cst. Heather Cosenzo, was voted in as new director of the organization recently which is the major financial fundraiser for the NWT Special Olympics.
Cosenzo, who has been in Yellowknife since 2017, expressed excitement this week in having the opportunity to lead a new team in the effort. Specifically, she is planning on getting a community run off the ground to go with the organization’s name and to raise awareness about Special Olympics NWT.
“We have this name – the Law Enforcement Torch Run and yet (the run) is not one our activities,” Cosenzo said. “Last year we wanted to do it in commemoration of the 50th anniversary (of Special Olympics), so we are planning on doing a fun 5K walk or run on March 31.”
Cosenzo replaces Lea Martin who had been involved with LETR since it started 13 years ago, including as director for the last six. Martin said she is proud of the years she spent working for the organization, but was forced to step down as she battles cancer.
“As much as I am passionate about this whole thing I can’t do it,” said Martin. “I have been trying to find someone who is passionate. Although I have a couple of Torch Run volunteers who are willing to step up and be director, it is not about being willing, but being passionate.
“With Heather I feel very confident that she will do an awesome job and I will do my best to guide her.”
Cosenzo’s new era of leadership follows a year that volunteers have considered a strong one as the two main fundraisers – May’s Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge and September’s Airplane Pull – raised more than $21,000 and $15,000, respectively.
“Special Olympics NWT is really pleased that strong leadership will continue under Heather (Cosenzo ) and she has worked well with the previous director, ” said Lynn Elkin, Special Olympics NWT’s executive director. She added that having a strong volunteer leadership with the torch run is important because Special Olympics NWT relies heavily on the annual fundraising.
Elkin said 2018 had been a “rebuilding” year after a few years of fewer dollars, but that with new leadership the Special Olympics NWT is looking forward to an upswing of community support again.