BC, Special Olympics Connected
Boston College Police Officer Kevin Christopher remembers a moment during an overnight shift more than a decade ago, walking through the dimmed halls of the Boston College Campus School during a building check. He stopped in front of one of the photos of a teacher hugging a student with severe special needs.
“Growing up, as a kid, I was afraid of people with special needs,” confided Christopher. “That night, I stood there. I stood there for a while. I noticed all the equipment that was around to help students walk and breathe. Then I noticed that in every picture in that hallway, all the kids were smiling. It brought tears to my eyes and I remember thinking, ‘My God, I would never have the strength to care for a child that had such challenges.’”
Not long after that night, Christopher’s son, Ryan, was born. Ryan has Down syndrome.
“Ryan put it all in perspective. He has taught me to be a better man, a better person, each and every day,” said Christopher.
Christopher is now staff advisor to Special Olympics Boston College (SOBC). This year, the club has qualified as an official student organization. BCPD recently donated new equipment – soccer balls, volleyballs, bags and air pumps – to the group in a quiet ceremony on campus last week.
This Saturday, Special Olympics Massachusetts and Humboldt Storage and Moving will hold a truck pull fundraiser at Edmond’s Hall at 10 a.m. (registration begins at 9 a.m.). Teams of 10 pay $500 and try to pull tractor-trailers, a moving truck and duck boats. All the money raised will be donated to Special Olympics.
Since 2006, BCPD has worked with the unofficial BC Special Olympics group. Today, 30 student volunteers organize practices and competitions for 24 Special Olympic athletes. Each coach must participate in training and make the commitment for the season.
Co-President Pat Luchini ’14 has been involved with SOBC since his freshman year. It was a group that immediately drew his attention at a Student Involvement Fair.
“My younger brother is deaf, so I grew up in a family that was very familiar with the weird looks, confusion and misunderstanding that is associated with someone who is different,” said Luchini. “After running my first practice, I was hooked. My involvement with Special Olympics is the most defining experience of my life. And I will continue to be involved with this for the rest of my life.”
While co-president Danny Corning ’15 has no familial connection to someone with special needs, he was drawn to participate in SOBC after working with Special Olympics in high school.
“I started simply by playing basketball with the athletes. To see the work and commitment they put into it, they had a true appreciation for every practice,” said Corning.
“So often we just go through the motions. As a society we can get caught up in competition and being number one. The Special Olympics oath is: ‘Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.’ This experience has helped me appreciate the bravery in the attempt.”
Special Olympian Kevin Slattery works in BC Dining and is a member of the SOBC Double Dragons. He has medaled six times in the Massachusetts Special Olympic games.
“I like soccer and basketball, baseball and mini golf,” he said. “I am really looking forward to the soccer games this year. I like being involved.”
The experiences of Slattery, as well as Luchini and Corning, are why BCPD and other law enforcement agencies are so committed to Special Olympics, said Sgt. Jeffrey Postell, head of BCPD Community Relations. In addition to its partnership with SOBC, BCPD participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run – a year-round fund raising effort that calls law enforcement officials to be guardians of the flame – and the Cruiser Convoy, a statewide procession of law enforcement to kick off the Special Olympic Massachusetts Summer Games.
“We are called to be a guardian, a voice and a resource for those who need us,” said Postell. “This is our community and our commitment. If we ask our students to be men and women for others, we must be willing to live that Jesuit value ourselves. Everything Special Olympics stands for is pure BC. The goal from here is to raise awareness and ensure this organization is self-sustaining so members of our community can participate for years to come.”