About nine years ago, when Kenosha Police Officer Kate Schaper agreed to attend her first Special Olympics Wisconsin event to hand out awards, little did she know the experience would change her life forever.
And in fact, the life-changing experience that has since catapulted Officer Schaper to become a dedicated and accomplished member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics Wisconsin almost didn’t happen. “On the day that I handed out awards it was cold and raining, and I was thinking ‘man I wish I could go home,’” Officer Schaper said.
But something unexpected occurred. “Then an athlete who was older than I was walked up to me and told me that his entire life he wanted to be a cop. I told him that he could be my security guard for the day and he walked away,” Officer Schaper said. “I thought to myself, this man wanted his whole life to be a cop and here I am a police officer and I’m complaining. At that point I was sold on volunteering and slowly started getting more involved.”
“I am looking forward to the Opening Ceremony of the Games and seeing all the athletes walking into the event. I have never attended a large-scale event such as this and I feel the energy will be really high.”
Thanks to this seemingly random encounter that put things in perspective for her, SOWI athletes have for nearly a decade now counted Officer Schaper as one of their biggest fans and supporters. That support has now been rewarded as Officer Schaper has been selected to represent Wisconsin in the Law Enforcement Torch Run® Final Leg for Special Olympics at the USA Games this summer.
In the week leading up to the Special Olympics USA Games, Officer Schaper and her fellow Final Leg runners will be traversing the whole state of Washington as Guardians of the Flame, carrying the Flame of Hope to every corner of the state and eventually all the way into Husky Stadium in Seattle to commence the USA Games Opening Ceremony on July 1. “I am looking forward to the Opening Ceremony of the Games and seeing all the athletes walking into the event,” Officer Schaper said. “I have never attended a large-scale event such as this and I feel the energy will be really high.”
“Without the additional volunteers locally within the law enforcement community in our area our events wouldn’t be made possible. I thank them for their hard work in making our events successful.”
The energy will certainly be high as Husky Stadium will be filled with more than 3,000 athletes and countless supporters from across the nation. 54 of those competitors will be athletes and Unified partners representing Team Wisconsin. They are getting the opportunity to participate in this amazing experience of a lifetime in large part due to the unwavering support of folks in law enforcement like Officer Schaper.
After that first wet, cold event with SOWI nine years ago that changed her life, Officer Schaper has since gone on to participate in countless fundraisers for SOWI. She even went on to chair events like the Guardians of the Flame Luncheons, Dunkin’ Donut Cop on a Rooftop events and the Kenosha Polar Plunge. Last year, Officer Schaper took on the difficult task of chairing the Kenosha Polar Plunge by herself. During her first year as the sole chair, the Kenosha Polar Plunge saw a 12% increase in revenue from the previous year. Despite her impressive accomplishments in supporting SOWI that have earned her a spot on the Final Leg for the Special Olympics USA Games, in true LETR fashion Officer Schaper would rather talk about team effort.
“Without the additional volunteers locally within the law enforcement community in our area our events wouldn’t be made possible. I thank them for their hard work in making our events successful,” Officer Schaper said.
And SOWI would like to thank the athlete who won over Officer Schaper all those years ago in that brief encounter. Thanks to him, the athletes of SOWI have gained an amazing supporter for life and LETR superstar who now gets to help bring the mission of Special Olympics to the national stage in five months.