Wilson joins 90 members of law enforcement from 30 countries in ‘final leg’
Retired Border Patrol Agent Jeff Wilson, of Western New York, was selected to represent the state in Berlin, Germany, for the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) “final leg” that will lead into opening ceremonies of the 2023 Special Olympics World Games on June 17.
Wilson will join 90 members of law enforcement from 30 countries for 16 torch runs in Germany before lighting the cauldron at opening ceremonies, officially marking the start of World Games Berlin.
“Members of law enforcement selected to participate in the final leg are recognized as leaders of our movement to inclusion, ambassadors for our athletes and pioneers of the incredible partnership between Special Olympics and law enforcement that has changed the lives of millions of people with intellectual differences,” said Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “We are honored to have Jeff represent New York on the world stage.”
Wilson began supporting Special Olympics through LETR more than 25 years ago as a border patrol agent. He participated in Texas and New Mexico before coming to New York approximately 12 years ago. He became even more active when his daughter, Hailey, was born with an intellectual disability two years later.
He says the impact Special Olympics has had on her childhood has reached all facets of her life.
"It's an incredible honor to represent Special Olympics New York and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the final leg in Berlin,” Wilson said. “This is certainly the chance of a lifetime. This opportunity is extremely meaningful to me, knowing that I am representing an organization that has meant so much to me and my family. I cannot express the significance Special Olympics has played in the life of my daughter, Hailey."
A press release stated, “Wilson currently serves as the regional director of LETR for Special Olympics New York in the western region. He is widely known throughout the movement as someone who is always asking what more he can do to support the athletes. He is active in the recruitment of new athletes and members of LETR, serves on the ‘Polar Plunge’ committee, and participates in several other events that support the organization such as ‘Law and Orders,’ the ‘Buffalo Bowl’ and ‘Color Run.’
Wilson recalled, “My favorite memory took place several years ago when I ran the ‘Badges on the Border’ leg of the Torch Run in Niagara Falls, with my wife and three daughters. At the end of the run, we met our Canadian LETR counterparts at the international boundary on the middle of the Rainbow Bridge. There, my daughter Hailey, along with a Special Olympics Canada athlete, was selected to use the ‘Flame of Hope’ to light a caldron that signified the unity and support for LETR between our two nations.”
Wilson recently had the honor of presenting Hailey with her first State Fall Games medal, after her bocce team took bronze in October.
The press release added, “Officers from around the world have participated in the LETR final leg leading into Special Olympics World Games since 1993. The final leg team, comprised of officers representing their state or country, act as ‘Guardians of the Flame,’ carrying the Special Olympics Torch and ‘Flame of Hope’ throughout communities in order to raise awareness and funding for Special Olympics. This event is called the final leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that occur annually throughout the world.”
More About Special Olympics New York
Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 42,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with more than 200 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers.
The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally.
For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.