NCPD Officer Kelly Coughlin and the ‘Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run’ [Q&A]


Group photo of NCPD at the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run

New Canaan Police Officer Kelly Coughlin is a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics, and in recent years she’s arranged for the New Canaan Police Department to participate in a popular fundraiser for the organization, the Law Enforcement Torch Run. We put some questions to Coughlin about the event itself, scheduled for May 31, as well as additional ways that locals can support the Special Olympics.

Here’s our exchange.


New Canaanite: What is the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run?

New Canaan Police Officer Kelly Coughlin

Officer Kelly Coughlin: The Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run first started in 1981 as a way for law enforcement to become active in the community and to support the Special Olympics cause by carrying the Flame of Hope, hence the Torch Run name, through communities in every state. Each year, 97,000 law enforcement officers participate in the run, passing the torch off from town to town. Over $600 million has been raised for Special Olympics programs across the country since its inception. 

Talk about New Canaan PD’s participation in the Torch Run in the past and what the department has been doing in recent years.

New Canaan Police has long participated in various Special Olympics events and in past years we have typically joined up with Darien Police to run the Law Enforcement Torch Run through Darien, since there is a leg of the run that goes along Route 1 through various towns. Last year was the first time in over 20 years that New Canaan was able to host a portion of the run due to our high level of involvement in Special Olympics activities and our successful fundraising efforts. We look forward to being able to bring the Law Enforcement Torch Run back to New Canaan again this year. 

You recently received approval from the Police Commission to block off the old “Pop Up Park” area at South and Elm for part of Friday, May 31. Tell us about what’s happening there on that day.

Friday May 31st will be the day of our portion of the Law Enforcement Torch Run going through New Canaan and between 10 am and 2 pm NCPD will be set up at the Pop Up Park to sell merchandise as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut. This is also an opportunity for members of the community to meet several members of our department and to see the torch be lit as the run kicks off from here at approximately 1 pm. The run will then go down South Avenue all the way to the border of Darien. 

You’ve led this effort in New Canaan for a few years now. Talk about your own support for Special Olympics CT through the Torch Run. What does the organization’s mission and work mean to you?

I have participated in the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run for several years now and in 2022 I started getting our department involved in the Penguin Plunge, which is an additional fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut. As an athlete and coach myself, I know how impactful participation in sports and competitive environments can be and I love getting to support an organization that provides these opportunities for people throughout Connecticut no matter what their abilities are. Everyone should feel included and get to experience the joy and camaraderie of being on a sports team and working together towards a common goal. 

What else would you like our readers to know about the Torch Run?

Please keep an eye out for various fundraising opportunities we will have to raise money for Special Olympics Connecticut, including merchandise that will be for sale. On Thursday May 16th from 5 pm to 8 pm, Gates on Forest Street will be hosting our Tip-A-Cop event where officers will serve as wait staff at the restaurant in order to earn tips, which will then be directly donated to Special Olympics.

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