Retired McPherson Police Chief, Dennis Shaw, was one of three recipients of the John Carion “Unsung Hero” Award at the 2014 International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference in New Orleans. LETR members from around the globe attended the annual conference.
The John Carion Unsung Hero Award was created to recognize individuals who have contributed to the success of the Torch Run in an unheralded fashion. The fundraising and education program for Special Olympics was begun by Wichita, KS, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon in 1981 as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel with Special Olympics. The award honors the memory of Sgt. Carion a Sterling Heights (MI) Police Officer who epitomized the term “unsung Hero” during his lifetime before his untimely death in a plane crash in 1994.
“It was truly an honor to receive the award,” said Shaw, who was nominated by Officer Todd Martens of McPherson. “I have been very lucky to have great support from others with the same goal in mind. We want people with intellectual disabilities to be successful and included in our society. The success of the athletes is all we need to stay motivated for the cause. We are making a difference in their lives.” Shaw also stated how proud he was of the hardworking Kansas LETR men and women, and Special Olympics Kansas staff.
“Shaw has consistently provided effective leadership to the LETR”. Martens stated. “ His dedication, spirit and enthusiasm for Special Olympics have been instrumental in the growth of the program locally and across Kansas. He has delivered 30 years of unwavering commitment, dedication and leadership to this movement in an effective, professional and unselfish fashion”.
Shaw joined the Torch Run movement in 1984 at the McPherson Police Department, as the Agency and County Coordinator. He began with only 3 officers from his department and no other agency involvement in McPherson County. As Shaw began championing the movement, more than half the agencies in his county became involved. He started, and is still instrumental in one of Kansas’ longest standing fundraising events, the McPherson Golf Tournament. He also runs every year in the Torch Run and last year, he joined the Emporia Police Department Agency as they bicycled the Flame of Hope over 80 miles through the Kansas Flint Hills. He travels and attends many Polar Plunges each year in Kansas, many times serving as a judge, and thanking plungers.
Shaw is a recipient of the Kansas LETR Richard LaMunyon Hall of Fame Award; he represented Kansas LETR at the Final Leg in China in 2007, and began serving on the KLETR Executive Council in 2003. He is currently the State Director for KLETR, through December 2014.
Chris Hahn, President & CEO, Special Olympics Kansas stated, “Dennis has been an inspiration to many, serving and volunteering with the Kansas LETR. He always believes in the best interest of our athletes. For Dennis it is about making a difference in the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities. He is truly deserving of the Carion “Unsung Hero” award.
Special Olympics Kansas is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive, respected members of society through sports, health and nutrition programs and leadership development. Young Athletes programs are offered for ages 3-7.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in Wichita, Kansas in 1981 with six runners and has grown to an international program that involves thousands of Law Enforcement personnel raising millions of dollars annually to benefit Special Olympics programs in the United States and abroad. The Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics.