In light of National Police Week May 15-21, Special Olympics Wisconsin celebrated a special award recipient at the Wisconsin Professional Police Association Convention Banquet in Wisconsin Dells in late April. Specialist Niki Nelson, City of Waukesha Police Department and State Council Member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Menomonie’s Danny Cox, Special Olympics Wisconsin Athlete and Athlete Representative to the Law Enforcement Torch Run Council honored Officer Andrya Coutts of the City of Madison Police Department as the WPPA Volunteer of the Year for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
Below is Danny’s speech from the event, presenting the award on SOWI’s behalf.
Thank you, and good evening! My name is Danny Cox and I am the Special Olympics Athlete representative on the Law Enforcement Torch Run State Council. It is an honor and a privilege to serve on this Council and represent the athletes of Wisconsin.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin is a volunteer movement established by members of the law enforcement community to support Special Olympics. The purpose of the Torch Run is to increase awareness of and raise funds for Special Olympics. Together we want to share the message to LIVE UNIFIED and celebrate the idea that there are millions of different abilities, but no disabilities. I’m asking each and every one of you here tonight to help spread the message that people with intellectual disabilities can–and will–succeed when given the opportunity.
On behalf of the more than 10,000 athletes who compete in Special Olympics Wisconsin, thank you for carrying the Flame of Hope year after year and for supporting me and my fellow athletes.
The Special Olympics Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run Volunteer of the Year Award was established in 2005 to honor an outstanding WPPA member committed to the mission of Special Olympics Wisconsin. This award is both an honor and expression of gratitude for the countless hours volunteered to enrich the lives of athletes like me.
Now it is my great pleasure to announce the recipient of the 2022 Special Olympics Wisconsin Law Enforcement Torch Run Volunteer of the Year Award.
This year’s award goes to an outstanding officer who began her involvement with Special Olympics around 17 years ago. She is an executive board member of the Region 6 Law Enforcement Torch Run serving as secretary. She has participated in Tip-a-Cops at Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, and Buffalo Wild Wings; along with Cop on a Rooftop at Dunkin Donuts. As a member of the Polar Plunge Committee she has assisted with fundraising and planning for the event and raised over $15,000 and secured a free DJ for the Plunge.
She has participated in the Region 6 Bowling with athletes, Region 6 Oregon Hometown Games for track and field, Sun Run and Solar Plunge. She has been a Torch Runner and assisted with planning and volunteering in the run. She recruits Officers at Madison Police Department to become volunteers with Special Olympics Wisconsin. She spreads the word of Special Olympics to her family and friends. She has a smile and a high five for all the Athletes. She takes the time to talk to the Athletes and include them wherever she is.
She has requested Madison PD to have an Autism Squad and she has been given the approval. She will be the officer driving it. “Andrya is truly a worker bee and gets things accomplished in record time. She considers herself my personal gopher,” states friend and colleague Deputy Lori Casper.
Officer Andrya Coutts is a friend to all Special Olympians, and promotes the mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. A long-time participant of the Torch Run, she has been an inspiration to many law enforcement officers and athletes, including me.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in saluting Officer Andrya Coutts of the City of Madison Police Department as your volunteer of the year for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
Special Olympics Wisconsin has also created an award that is displayed in the WPPA office in Madison with each year’s award winner’s name and department engraved on it. SOWI is proud to partner with WPPA and its commitment to inclusion!