Canada’s best compete on the Rock
By Danette Dooley
By Danette Dooley
785 words – MR pics: dooley apr.jpg, dooley2 apr.png
by Danette Dooley
Cst. Ryan McMackin of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) was one of 27 law enforcement officers to carry the Flame of Hope from St. John’s to Corner Brook for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Canada Games.
The NL Law Enforcement Torch Run hosted the national final leg of the torch’s journey.
Both McMackin and fellow officer Cst. Danny Abbass, also of Corner Brook, are members of the torch run committee.
McMackin said a total of 27 officers representing the RNC, RCMP, Canadian Border Services, Inland Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Memorial University Campus Enforcement, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Her Majesty’s Penitentiary took part in the run.
The officers, along with some Special Olympics athletes, left the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Feb. 26 and arrived in Corner Brook in time for the flame to light the cauldron on March 1, signaling the start of the competition.
“We stopped in different places along the way and met with the Special Olympians. It was pretty exciting to be a part of that,” McMackin said.
It’s the first time since its establishment in 1969 that the Special Olympian Canada Winter Games have been held in Newfoundland and Labrador.
More than 1,600 athletes, coaches and families travelled to Corner Brook, on the province’s scenic west coast . The athletes competed in numerous sports including skiing, figure skating, speed skating, curling, floor hockey and snowshoeing.
McMackin is from Sussex, New Brunswick. He trained at the Atlantic Police Academy and was hired by the RNC Corner Brook Detachment in 2002.
He decided to apply to the RNC after befriending many Newfoundlanders at the academy, although he’d never been to Newfoundland.
“I figured I would try out a new adventure, gain some experience and return home. I quickly fell in love with the province, including its outdoor beauty and some of the nicest, easy going, most hospitable people I have ever met in my entire life. I now have a family in Newfoundland and have no plans of ever leaving,” McMackin said.
McMackin works street patrol. He loves being on the front lines of policing and enjoys the day-to-day interactions with people. He was selected by his peers for the RNC Association’s Award of Excellence for community service in December 2014.
McMackin has been a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee for about six years. His goal is to spread awareness and inspire more people, including police officers, to become involved in the run.
“When you’re out there running across the Trans Canada Highway, no one really knows what you are doing but once you run into those smaller clubs and you get together with the athletes and the parents – that’s what the run is all about.
“Taking part in the final leg with the torch and attending various Special Olympic club events, listening to the athletes speeches, watching these athletes interact, compete, smile (and) laugh is definitely the most rewarding thing that I have ever taken part in.”
The national team will be selected during the Corner Brook games to represent Canada at the 2017 Special Olympics World Games in Austria.
In keeping with the Special Olympics athlete oath “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” McMackin said seeing all the athletes from various parts of the country come together for the opening ceremonies – in anticipation of the Games – “was amazing.”
McMackin had an opportunity to place medals around the necks of some of the winners. It’s a moment that’s hard to describe, he said.
“When these athletes get together for torch runs once a year or competition throughout the year they are not worried about mortgage payments, the price of oil etc, they just show up, smile from ear to ear, laugh, hug and have a great time.”
The national games mean a great deal not only the medal winners but to those who go home knowing they’ve competed for their province.
“This is a Stanley Cup or a World Series for these kids. It’s just amazing to be a part of it.”
Submitted photo: L-R: Mark Gillam with Inland Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, Cst. Danny Abbass RNC Corner Brook, Special Olympian Liam O’Brien and Const. Ryan McMackin, RNC Corner Brook. Photo taken in Port aux Basques, near the end of the final leg of the run. The hockey game raised about $1,500 for the Law Enforcement Torch Run and local charities.
L-R: Cst. Ryan McMackin, Corner Brook RNC, Special Olympian Sarah Browne and Cst. Danny Abbass, RNC Corner Brook. Browne won a gold medal in cross-country skiing on March 2.