Thursday January 12, 2017
Officer First Class Brianne Williamson of the South Burlington Police Department was inducted into the Law Enforcement Torch Run Hall of Fame in recognition for her commitment to Special Olympics Vermont. The award, presented at the organization’s annual state conference held in December in Killington, is named after the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), a year-round grassroots fundraising and awareness effort to support Special Olympics athletes around the world. Qualifications for the LETR Hall of Fame award include that the individual spread awareness of the Special Olympics Vermont mission, assist in recruitment of other departments, and, above all, has been a champion for inclusion and acceptance.
Officer Williamson, who participates in varied Special Olympic activities throughout the year, said of receiving the award, “It was priceless. In a career where I do not get many ‘thank yous,’ it told me that my energy and enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to partnering Law Enforcement with Special Olympics does not go unnoticed.”
“Officer Williamson is a tremendous source of enthusiasm and we are honored that she has chosen to commit her time and talent to serving Special Olympics Vermont,” says Lisa DeNatale, President and CEO of Special Olympics Vermont. “All around the world, Guardians of the Flame are supporting athletes with intellectual disabilities. Officer Williamson’s leadership will ensure that Vermont continues to be a leader in the movement.”
In 2016, LETR volunteers, like Officer Williamson, raised $107,000 to support Special Olympics Vermont through t-shirt sales, fundraising events, and sponsorships. Vermont’s LETR council is the governing body behind the LETR strategy and all activity in the state. Made up of eight members representing law enforcement departments around the state, they recently met at the Special Olympics Vermont annual state conference.
Last year, Officer Williamson participated in several well-known Special Olympics Vermont fundraising events, such as Tip-A-Cop, the Penguin Plunge, and Cop-On-Top. She says, “On top of that, I go to a lot of the Special Olympic sports competitions to award medals to the athletes. It’s one of my favorite things to do. The athletes bring such joy. It’s so infectious that you can’t help but smile.”
According to Special Olympics Vermont, Officer Williamson is a top fundraiser in the Penguin Plunge event, Special Olympics Vermont’s largest annual fundraising effort with events in North Bennington and Burlington. The fundraiser, which began in 1996, is a yearly winter highlight in Vermont and draws well over 1,000 people who take the plunge to support sports training and competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities. In 2016, the Penguin Plunge made a record breaking $474,000.
Liza Reed, the organization’s marketing & partnerships director says, “In addition to fundraising events, Officer Williamson is a staple at Special Olympics Vermont competitions. She is always there to drape medals and cheer athletes on. She is well known and loved in the Special Olympics Vermont community by athletes, volunteers, and staff.”
February 4 will mark the sixth time Officer Williamson will be jumping into the cold waters of Lake Champlain for a good cause. Other events in her future include awarding medals at the Unified Bowling Tournament in Barre and participating in a new fundraising event called Snow Mobile Poker Ride. Officer Williamson adds, “I will continue to do what I love and this is it.”