HPD and the Special Olympics: Big Hearts Lead to Strong Bonds

March 17, 2017

 

by David S. Morin

Law enforcement can be a thankless job, and, unfortunately, some in today’s society look down on police officers who each and every day are there to serve and protect.

What many do not see are these same police officers going above and beyond what is expected for the athletes and the families of Special Olympics.  This unique relationship with the Special Olympics began some 25 years ago, and, since that time, has expanded into a 100-percent Hudson Police Department commitment.

On March 12, a dozen Hudson officers once again faced freezing water and below-zero temperatures completing the Winni Dip at Lake Winnipesaukee.  Team Hudson raised $15,600 for the event.  In total, Hudson Police Department has raised $33,000 during the Winni Dip, and the total brought in by law enforcement came to $65,000.

The department’s Special Olympics coordinator is Detective Alan Marcotte.  Marcotte began his work with children with intellectual disabilities in high school.  This work remained with him when he began as a police officer for the town of Plymouth and followed here to Hudson.  When the department’s Special Olympics coordinator position opened up he was the ideal candidate.

Recently, Marcotte and Officer Steven McElhinney traveled to Narragansett, R.I., as the representatives for the State of New Hampshire Law Enforcement at the Super Plunge Event.  This is not your normal jump-into-the-freezing-water-and-run-out event.  This event has participants plunging into the Atlantic Ocean once an hour for a 24-hour period.  This year’s weather added a little more misery for the officers as a wind chill of -14 degrees made the 49-degree ocean water feel somewhat warm.

During their hourly swim, the officers dedicated the swim and wore T-shirts from another New Hampshire Police Department who participates with the Special Olympics organization.  Officer McElhinney said what made the event special was, as they completed their 4 a.m. swim, two women approached them stating they had come down to the beach to see if the officers were really completing the plunge.  After talking with the officers, the women made a $50 donation to the event.

After the Winter Games are completed, a dance is held at Waterville Valley.  Each year as the Hudson officers walk into the dance hall the DJ announces “HPD is in the house,” and the crowd of athletes and family members go crazy as if a popular singing group has entered the stage.  Chelsea Gill, the director of development for the New Hampshire Special Olympics, said the Hudson officers are looked upon as rock stars to the athletes and the families.  Throughout the night the officers dance and socialize with the athletes and families.

In addition to the Special Olympics support, Sergeant David Cayot explained that officers participate in many fundraising events such as Tip A Cop, the Torch Run, No Shave months, and events held at Irving Gas and Red Robin restaurants.  Cayot, an avid runner, represents the department during the Torch Run and a half-marathon coming up later in the year.  Cayot and his fellow officers are all quick to point out that the time they dedicate to raising funds for Special Olympics and other charities is far more than worth it.

Like Detective Marcotte, Officer Roger Lamarche also began working with children with intellectual disabilities in high school.  Lamarche serves as the master of ceremonies each year at the Winter Games, which has earned him acclaim across the state.  He also is in the process of establishing a Hudson Special Olympics team.  To raise funds to get the team started, a Corn Hole Tournament is being held at the Hudson Community Center on March 25.

“These athletes put life in perspective,” said Lamarche.  “At times I take my life for granted.  They remind me that life is not without challenges, and they face their challenges with a smile and still remain happy every day.”

The officers get as much back as they put in.  The relationship between Special Olympics and law enforcement is that both find each other as a support chain.  The officers get time to work giving back without the stress, and their commitment allows them to recharge their batteries.  Also a great bond is made between the officers from the participating departments and lifetime friendships are formed with the athletes.  The officers feel as much pride as the athletes do as they place the medals around the necks of the winners.  The medals symbolize all the hard work that goes into making the games a success, the officers said.

The other officers complimented the work Marcotte has done, but he is quick to pass on the praise.  He said not every Hudson officer will jump into the freezing water of Lake Winnipesaukee, but every employee of the department participates in one way or another, said Marcotte.  The support that comes from the administration and the Hudson Police Officer Union is what is the driving force behind their dedication to the Special Olympics.

“Without our organization’s total commitment, we would not be able to do what we do,” Marcotte said.  “All these officers have a big heart and without their dedication we could not help the Special Olympics.”