The third annual Parcours des héros is set to take place on September 8th at Centre de la nature, a challenging yet unifying fundraising event organized by the Service de police de Laval. Funds raised from the event are given to the Quebec Special Olympics, all in the spirit of athleticism and family fun.

The Service de police de Laval invites all citizens to come encourage the athletes, made up of both police officers and Special Olympics athletes, who will work together in teams to cross the finish line of a large obstacle course spread over a six-kilometre area. Plenty of skills will be put to the test that day, namely perseverance, agility, endurance and team work.

The mission of the Quebec Special Olympics is to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports activities. All funds raised from the event will go directly to creating or maintaining innovative and necessary programs for these athletes.

“The Olympic athletes are a symbol of courage for us,” says Lieutenant Bernard Sauvé of the Service de police de Laval, who has been a committee member for the event since it began three years ago.

Lots of Family Activities on Site
All citizens are encouraged to come with their families, children, and friends; the more the merrier! During the event, many fun surprises will be on site, such as police mascots, a kid-friendly obstacle course, a dog training presentation, emergency vehicles to peek into, an Elvis concert, Le Rocket de Laval players, snack kiosks, and much more! Not only will family fun be on the menu, but visitors can also witness the bravery and strength of the Special Olympics athletes and their teammates from the Laval police force as well as officers from other regions of Quebec.

Team Work and Endurance
For the obstacle course, Special Olympics athletes will each be teamed up with four police officers, and they all must go through each of the 20 obstacles together and cross the finish line together as a team. Both the police officers and athletes will experience the challenges and victories together, from differing perspectives.

“It’s a source of pride for the athletes to take part in an activity with a real team of police officers,” says Eddie Bonvard, event coordinator and liaison with the Quebec Special Olympics. “Through each obstacle the athletes and the officers get to know one another and develop a nice complicity.”

Bonvard and Lieutenant Sauvé both agree that the collaborative nature of the obstacle course activity is a plus for all. What’s more, at the beginning of the day, each athlete is individually honoured for their participation in the event.

“I’d like to thank the organizers of the Parcours des héros for the work they’ve been doing since the first event. They do it for us, the athletes, to show that we are capable, that we persevere, and we don’t give up,” says Valérie, one of the athletes who will be participating for the third year in a row. She is also the proud Ambassador for the Quebec Special Olympics and competes throughout the year as a swimmer.

Normally, the Special Olympics athletes compete against each other or on their own teams in their sports categories, but during the Parcours des héros each athlete is bolstered by the support of the police officers.

“The athlete is motivated to work twice as hard to prove that he/she is able to do it, and the officers are always impressed to see their steady motivation whether they are succeeding or not at a given moment,” says Bonvard. He also says that the athletes learn a lot about themselves during the obstacle course, and as for the officers, they acquire a better understanding of the challenges these heroes face in daily life.

Inspired by Military Training
The various obstacles in the challenge are inspired by military training and might take a team anywhere from one to two hours to complete, depending on their speed and abilities, and particularly their strategy to work together, as no member of a team can progress to the next obstacle unless each member has completed the preceding one.

“It gave me more strength than I thought I had,” says Valérie. “The course is difficult, and it takes a lot of energy to get through it. Sometimes, it really takes all four of us to get one person over a wall. I loved it.”

Everyone’s Encouragement is Needed
Everyone is invited to attend the event to encourage the athletes and the officers, who will be making every attempt to surpass their own expectations. All participants will receive a medal upon crossing the finishing line as well as a goodie bag provided by the many sponsors, including the official event sponsor, Arbour Volkswagen. Other sponsors include Pâtisserie St-Martin, McDonald’s, Centre Sportif Extrême Évolution, Rôtisserie St-Hubert, Canadian Tire (located on boulevard Le Corbusier), Laval Families Magazine, Embassy Plaza and Vision-air.

To be able to participate, each team of officers and their athlete must raise $500 (given entirely to the Quebec Special Olympics). All officers participating in the event are acting as volunteers, including several students of the police academy. Being involved in the community is a fundamental aspect of the Service de police de Laval’s mission. This year, the organizers are hoping to raise $40 000. You can support the cause by donating and/or coming to the event to encourage the teams.

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Translation by Lisa Cipriani