By: Theresa Gaffney
125 cities, 13 days, 1 flame of hope. Officer Kristine Crosman of the North Attleboro Police Department had the honor of representing Massachusetts in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) at this year’s Special Olympics World Games in L.A.
On May 26, the Flame of Hope began its journey across America in the first ever Unified Relay. Upon reaching California, the flame was passed to the LETR Final Leg Team. For 13 days they carried the torch all over the state of California to honor the hope, opportunity, and community that Special Olympics fosters for athletes all across the globe.
For Officer Crosman, the run had an even deeper significance, as she honored her daughter Kailyn, who was a Special Olympics athlete. Kailyn was 9 years old when she passed away last April.
However, Special Olympics has been a part of Crosman’s life for a much longer time. She began volunteering with Special Olympics when she was in high school at North Attleboro High. She continued participating as she went on to college at Bridgewater State, but it wasn’t until much more recently that she became actively involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
In the spring of 2012 at the Attleboro School Day Games, Crosman watched Kailyn do all the things that “she was told she would never do” such as hit, kick, and jump. Kailyn used a wheelchair, but all the activities were modified by the organizers of the event so that she could participate.
It was this moment that made Crosman realize the impact that Special Olympics could have on the lives of athletes. Since then, she and her husband, Mansfield Police Sgt. Larry Crosman, have actively volunteered and planned numerous events. They also both hold positions on the LETR board.
There have been many highlights over the years of her volunteer work, said Crosman. One memory that stands out was hosting her first LETR 5K race. The 2015 North Attleboro Glow in the Park 5K drew over 500 people and raised over $25,000 for Special Olympics Massachusetts.
“It makes me proud to see what I was able to accomplish with the help of my husband, family, friends, co-workers, and community,” said Crosman.
And it certainly is a community that Crosman and her family have behind her. From the Glow in the Dark 5K to the Cruiser Convoy at the State Games each year, the North Attleboro Police Department continues to support Crosman and Special Olympics. “Working as a team outside of work is fun and rewarding,” Crosman said. She and her department participated in the First Annual LETR Chili Chowder Cook Off, an event organized by her husband.
The Torch Run, however, is on an entirely different level than the local cook off. Crosman does not know why she was chosen, “especially since I really do not like to run,” she joked.
“I would like to think that the powers that be in Special Olympics and LETR saw something in me that I did not initially see in myself,” she said.
Crosman was inspired by the image in her mind of her daughter Kailyn running, “in those hot pink sneakers she loved to wear.” She trained 4-5 days a week, and despite being side tracked by a knee injury, she went on to run for 13 days straight with the Final Leg.
It was a challenge, but according to Crosman, what was even more of a challenge was mentally preparing. “I am not sure if you can ever be mentally prepared for the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.
Crosman ran with 73 other Law Enforcement Officers and 10 Special Olympics Athletes. The Special Olympics World Games began on July 25 and concluded on August 2, 2015.