My name is Joel Goodwin, and I am a Sergeant with the Corvallis Police Department. I have worked for CPD for about 13 years, and have been involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics the entire time. I found out fairly quickly that it is easy to become involved, and the Athletes I meet as a result are inspiring.
I had the distinct honor of being chosen to represent Oregon law enforcement in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. I was one of just over 100 law enforcement officials from around the world selected for this three week mission of helping to spread the word about the World Games and Special Olympics. We were split into three separate routes to maximize our efforts.
From June 6th through June 27th I was part of a team covering Cyprus and the Greek Isles. All told we made close to 50 presentations during our journey, stopping a cities large and small. It was an incredible experience on many levels; getting to see so much of Greece on our whirlwind tour was just the icing on the cake.
I was impressed with the reception we received from the Greek (and Cypriot) people. No matter where we went, people stopped what they were doing to cheer for us as we carried the Flame of Hope through the streets to various presentation sites. We were warmly welcomed with kind words, applause, dancing, and food. There is no way to replicate the hospitality we received.
Just as significant was the experience of getting to know the other Torch Runners. We had people from all over the world on our route: Ecuador, Poland, Latvia, Australia, Paraguay, Portugal, and of course Greece and the USA. It was impressive to see the worldwide dedication we shared to the Torch Run and Special Olympics. We started the trip as a bus full of strangers, but by the end of our journey we had become a family, building on our common tie to the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
There was one Torch Runner in particular that I was fortunate to have as a room mate. You see, we also had three Special Olympics athletes on our route: Stephanie, Panos, and Adam. Adam and I were room mates for the duration of the trip, and if given the choice I wouldn’t have anyone else to share the adventure with. I will admit I was a little stressed out during the first few days as Adam and I figured each other out, but it was an eye-opening experience to really see how someone with intellectual disabilities overcomes life’s challenges. I was impressed by Adam’s confidence as he spoke to audiences large and small (15 speeches during the trip!). I was proud of Adam’s determination in earning his Associate’s Degree at his local Community College. But most of all I was awestruck by Adam’s attitude. No matter how tired, hungry, sweaty, sunburned, thirsty, or sore he was he maintained a positive demeanor that was fairly contagious. Adam could not be defeated; he is an inspiration to us all.