Letter from a Special Olympics Massachusetts parent, Cara Schneider to Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) council member and Hampden County Coordinator, Jon Laporte about the impact LETR has had on her 11-year old son Ron Schneider.
Dear Law Enforcement Torch Run supporters,
My son, Ron has a therapeutic mentor that takes him out into the community for two hours a week to work on social skills and appropriate social interactions. Ron REALLY loved working with you and the other officers at Cop on Top, last December in Chicopee. What you, and the other participating officers, may not realize, is the positive impact you have on athletes that is truly life changing for them. Most kids (especially) with disabilities like Ron (Ron has Autism and PTSD) are easily scared by situations involving police and emergency personnel. All too often, these kids will resort to reflexes which include fight or flight. Flight being the most terrifying as the parent of a child that oft does this. My son has ZERO safety awareness in a stressful (to him) situation and fleeing into a parking lot or busy street is a very likely (albeit terrifying) result of his escalated anxiety. No matter how often we practice safety, stress and anxiety trump any pre-taught lessons and we, as caregivers are solely at the mercy of his mind to process that information… it’s often not what we hope for despite repeated trainings.
Back to his mentor… She was pulled over on the highway for a light on her vehicle that was out. Ron was in the back seat. She was terrified that the approaching officer would evoke a less than desirable action from Ron. The highway itself being the most scary scenario… Ron sat quietly while the state trooper came and went from her window. While waiting, she asked Ron if he was ok and if he understood why she was stopped.
His words have us, to this day, astounded and so grateful for all of the work that you and every officer does every day. The work that you do with LETR to support Special. Olympics is something that there are not enough thank yous for.
Ron’s response to his mentor: “The officer stopped you to keep you safe. Your light is out and you might not know and it might cause an accident for you. He’s helping you. Officers help all of us every day. They help me for Special Olympics and they help me know that if I am ever unsafe, they will help me. They helped me when all of them were at Walmart “On Top”. They are helpers. We shouldn’t ever be afraid or run from them. They’re the good guys.”
Jon, thank you for being one of the “good guys” And please pass this on to all the “good guys” that you work alongside.
The mom of a little boy that has lots of reasons to be scared, but because of the actions of LETR officers, he can see that you ARE the helpers.
Thank you will never be enough…
More information on “Cop on Top” can be found at specialolympicsma.org/letr. Pittsfield: 12/3 & 12/4 and Chicopee: 12/4