Each week until the unveiling of this year’s winner, we will feature the past winners of the John Michael Letz Award for service, commitment and contributions to the Law Enforcement Torch Run. In 2004, Jim McCart received it for his fundraising efforts and continued support of the Torch Run. Below is the speech given in his honor.
The John Michael Letz Award was established in December 1994 for the purpose of recognizing an individual whose unselfish efforts and contributions are directly responsible for the success of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Missouri. It is our unsung hero award.
The Torch Run Committee elected to name this award after an individual who serves thisd istinction from his long-time efforts while serving on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept. and who died from cancer in 1994. The St. Louis Trivia night fundraiser was his creation. It continues still today generating over $66,000 for SOMO. There are Trivia Nights all over Missouri as well as in other states now.
The first recipient of this award was Ralph Biele who was instrumental in starting Missouri’s Torch Run 16 years ago. I was last year’s recipient. When I read the previous
years’ recipients, I’d ask them to stand: John Cira, Rich Banahan, Tim Goebel, Mary Branstetter, Randy Boehm, David Pudlowski, Janelle Waterman, Graham Burnley, Jim Moran, Jim McCart.
The criteria for recipients includes:
Responsible for significant fundraising results
Participates in year-round support
Exemplifies the Special Olympics mission
Someone who is a visionary for the Torch Run
Someone whose source of motivation comes from helping the athletes
About this year’s recipient: There are many names involved in the Torch Run in the early years. Names like Ralph Biele, Red Lair, Ira Copeland, Carl Wolf, Gary Kempker…to name a few. Since then there have been many who have joined the ranks of Torch Run enthusiasts most of whom we don’t know. The reason we don’t know them is because they don’t do the work for the fame – and that’s why they are deserving of the Letz Award. They are always in the background – working to do more.
Let me tell you a little about this year’s recipient:
- Involved in the Torch Run for more than 7 years
- Hosts an annual golf tournament that raises $3000 each year
- Sells t-shirts, raffle tickets and hosts various agency fundraisers
- He knows how to raise money by climbing to new heights. In 1 day he raised $4800 for SOMO.
- His agency has orchestrated and hosted a major regional special event for 9 years bringing his agency together with other law enforcement agencies and his community.
- He knows how to freeze for a reason – and plans a pretty good party.
- His agency has raised over $550,000 in 9 years.
- His strategy for an event is being replicated elsewhere in Missouri in 2005.