A Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputy has been selected to help carry the torch that will signal the beginning of the 2013 Special Olympics Winter World Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, later this month.
Deputy Michelle Ugalde will represent Doña Ana County and the United States as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg® for the 2013 World Special Olympics.
The announcement was officially made Monday during a press conference at the Doña Ana County Government Center, attended by Randy Mascorella, Executive Director for Special Olympics New Mexico.
Ugalde joins law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from 19 countries who will gather in South Korea for the Winter Games. The Games are scheduled Jan. 26 through Feb. 5, 2013 in Pyeongchang, the hub of winter sports.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the Special Olympics movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle in the world. Since its inception in 1981, the LETR has raised more than $410 million to support Special Olympics events and athletes.
Deputy Ugalde will arrive in South Korea on Jan. 21, lace up her shoes and join other international teams to run in ceremonies through 60 South Korean communities to raise awareness for Special Olympics and the Winter Games.
“This is just an incredible honor,” Ugalde said. “Any officer who is involved with Special Olympics will tell you that the time you spend with this organization – especially the athletes – is time well-spent in helping to build cultural bridges and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. To have the opportunity to travel to South Korea and represent this segment of support for Special Olympics is definitely a highlight in my career.”
Ugalde’s expenses are paid for through Special Olympics of New Mexico. Fundraising on her part ensures reimbursement to the program to support other athletes.
“The Polar Plunge is the main vehicle for law enforcement officers to raise money for Special Olympics,” said Ugalde, who has been soliciting donations through the Final Leg website.
At the end of the games, every delegate will take a ceremonial Polar Plunge by jumping into the Sea of Japan during the coldest months of the year, where temperatures average 11 degrees during the day.
Closing ceremonies are scheduled for Feb. 5 in Pyeongchang. Ugalde will return home Jan. 31.