Many who enter law enforcement share some common traits. A desire to help people, to save lives and to make communities safer.
There is one additional commonality for many who serve in public safety…their connection to Special Olympics.
In New Hampshire, the story has been repeated more than once. It typically begins with a member of law enforcement participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run with their agency. From there, eventually they attend a competition to award medals to our athletes.
That first large-scale experience with SONH athletes is eye-opening. The spirit of competition and camaraderie among the athletes, the joy of earning a medal, the respect athletes have for those in law enforcement.
“Attending my first Summer Games and meeting the athletes. I was hooked after that” says Derry, NH Police Lieutenant Jon Breen. He’s a detective in Derry and ran his first Torch Run in 1998. He has been participating in SONH events ever since. Regarding the athletes of SONH Breen notes “The impact they have on you is incredible.”
Beyond the Torch Run and Summer Games, Breen has participated in Tip-A-Cop events, Fueling Dreams and basketball tournaments that were held in Derry. The one thing he’s never done is the Law Enforcement Winni Dip event at Lake Winnipesaukee.
The distance between Derry and the Big Lake coupled with busy schedules just never worked out. “I tried to organize some groups to go up to Winnipesaukee and I could never get enough volunteers to jump in” he says. The “Do-It-Yourself” nature of the 2022 Winni Dip events has changed all that.
Breen’s vision was pretty basic; put the call out for members of the department to do the dip locally at Gallien’s Town Beach in Derry. Jon’s expectation was to gather maybe five or seven colleagues and see if they could raise somewhere around $2,000 for the athletes and programs of SONH.
That’s why, two weeks ahead of the Law Enforcement Winni Dip Weekend for 2022 there’s a hint of shock and awe in Breen’s voice as he explains that 22 members of the Derry Police Department have signed up for the Dip and have collectively raised more than $14,000. Saying “Yeah, it totally exceeded my expectations” with both pride and surprise in his voice.
Breen’s idea to dabble in the DIP this year was formed based on another first for Breen taking place later this year.
Lieutenant Breen will proudly represent SONH at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg®. He will be joining police officers from across America along with Special Olympics athletes unified as part of the Final Leg journey that will be part of the opening ceremonies of the 2022 USA Games in Orlando, Florida June 5-12.
Breen is proud to have been chosen to represent the Granite State and looks forward to meeting other officers from around the country who are dedicated to the mission of Special Olympics.