Labrador RCMP officers donate to Special Olympians

Derek Montague
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Much-needed money to be used for Clarenville games

For the past several months, Happy Valley-Goose Bay RCMP officer Const. Shawn McLaughlin has volunteered much of his spare time with the local Special Olympics team, the Howling Huskies. The officer, who was stationed at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay detachment in 2011, knew from his experience that the Huskies had to work very hard every year to raise much-needed money.

So, when the local detachment came in possession of $4,610 they could donate to any organization, the officer didn’t hesitate to recommend the Howling Huskies.

“They’re always happy. They’re always happy to see you and they’re always welcoming you with a hug,” said McLaughlin. “They inspire you to take a look at yourself and want to be a better person, because they’re so great.”

“It’s been inspiring … no matter how long your day can be or how busy your own life can be, you go out and meet with the athletes on a Tuesday or a Thursday, and it just brings a smile to your face.”

The money came courtesy of an RCMP hockey tournament, held in Gander every year to honour two fallen RCMP officers, Const. Amey and Const. Hoey.

Every February, teams from Newfoundland and Labrador, made of RCMP officers and employees, travel to Gander for the tournament. The teams raise money by fundraising and paying a registration fee.

Each year, a different detachment is given the money so they can donate it to a deserving organization. This year it was Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s turn.

After McLaughlin propped up the Howling Huskies as deserving candidates, the other officers quickly followed suit.

“Const. McLaughlin has been volunteering with the Special Olympics here and noted that they had a hard time raising money, because of the cost of travel out of Labrador is so expensive,” said Const. Ken Maher, who organized the Happy Valley-Goose Bay hockey team.

“Basically, when we heard his story about the Special Olympians, we voted and decided on that one.”

On the evening of May 6, athletes and volunteers with the Huskies were invited to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay RCMP detachment, where officers dressed in red surge hosted a pizza party in their honour.

After eating pizza and taking a detailed tour of the station, Const. Shawn McLaughlin surprised everyone when he handed over the $4,610 to Huskies’ club co-ordinator Susan Lamond.

“We knew we were getting something but not that much,” said Lamond.

“The athletes were looking forward to it. They knew they were going for a tour. They didn’t know there was a pizza party or a donation.”

The money will definitely be put to good use. The Howling Huskies are currently raising funds for the 2014 Athletic Championships, held in Clarenville between June 14 and 15. Their main fundraiser is ticket sales on a brand new car, worth $24,000.

The Howling Huskies plan on sending 12 athletes to Clarenville, at an estimated cost of $15,000.

“It’s hard to raise funds year after year in a town the size of Goose Bay. So we were quite pleased to be able to provide them with that kind of money,” said Maher.

The pizza party and donation also marked a sad goodbye between McLaughlin and the Special Olympians, as the constable is scheduled to transfer across the country to British Columbia later in May

For his great contributions to the Howling Huskies, Lamond gave him a parting gift on behalf of the club: bookends made with Labradorite.

While hugging his friends one last time, McLaughlin was clearly holding back tears of emotion.

“I didn’t realize how touched I’d be. I’m usually not a very emotional person, but to stand there and have to say goodbye to the athletes … it really had a huge impact on me personally,” said McLaughlin.

Lamond and the rest of the Huskies have also been touched by McLaughlin’s contributions. Such a volunteer is difficult to replace.

“He’s a great guy. He’d be at practice every Tuesday and Thursday night,” said Lamond.

“I hate to see him leave.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Organizations: RCMP, Special Olympians, Special Olympics

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Gander Newfoundland and Labrador Clarenville British Columbia

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