Archive for Monday, June 1, 2009

Local law enforcement officers to participate in torch run for Special Olympics

Lawrence Special Olympians Becky Saathoff, 28, and Brady Tanner, 29, joke with Sheriff’s Office Lt. Doug Woods on Thursday outside of the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. Woods is one of 38 local law enforcement members who will be participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run on Wednesday, and both Saathoff and Tanner will compete in the Kansas Special Olympics on Friday in Wichita.

Lawrence Special Olympians Becky Saathoff, 28, and Brady Tanner, 29, joke with Sheriff’s Office Lt. Doug Woods on Thursday outside of the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. Woods is one of 38 local law enforcement members who will be participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run on Wednesday, and both Saathoff and Tanner will compete in the Kansas Special Olympics on Friday in Wichita.

June 1, 2009


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“Flame of Hope” Special Olympics torch run

View “Flame of Hope” torch run in a larger map

Special Olympics athletes from Douglas County and other areas of the state will convene later this week in Wichita for the 2009 Summer Games.

“I’m going to win gold,” said Brady Tanner, 29, a local athlete who will compete in the weight-lifting portions of the contest.

Ahead of the games, 38 local law enforcement officers will participate in one stretch of a statewide torch run, which covers 28 counties over six days.

Between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Police Department and Kansas University Public Safety Office will carry the “Flame of Hope” throughout Douglas County, said Sheriff's Lt. Doug Woods, agency coordinator.

“The three law enforcement agencies come together ... we work as a team for this cause,” he said.

The local officers will run the torch 15.2 miles from the Douglas County Jail, 3601 E. 25th St., north to Kansas Highway 10, west to Louisiana Street, and south to County Road 458, Woods said. The run will continue throughout Lawrence and KU and end in South Park.

The torch run will end Friday in Wichita, when officers will light the cauldron to officially open the athletic competition in front of more than 2,400 athletes, coaches and fans, Woods said. The competition is for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“I am really happy I’m going to it,” said Kody Gray, 12, a local contestant who will participate in multiple events.

Officers are encouraging people to cheer and enjoy the excitement during the torch run. They have been raising money and awareness about Special Olympics throughout the year.

“We’re human beings, like everybody else, we care for people and people with needs,” Woods said. “If we can help them out, then that makes us better people ourselves.”


begin60 9 years ago

It's a wonderful,warm gesture for local law enforcement personnel to participate in the torch run for Special Olympics. I'd like to respectfully remind Lt. Woods, however, that this organization was started by the Kennedys in honor of a developmentally challenged family member and as such its purpose is to encourage people of all stripes and backgrounds to reach their full potential by using their talents. Condescending "help" of the sort so frequently and intrusively offered to strangers on the street by the untrained and obviously backwardly uneducated around Lawrence makes no one a better person-- in fact, this gesture seems to be based on bigoted attitudes, and because it selects out specific groups for demeaning, self-serving attention it appears to be offensively discriminatory. Too often such "help" involves an unhealthy power relation-- it is comparable to sexism and racism. Let's try not to be so patronizing and chauvinistic in our attitudes and treatment of others. After all, as Lt. Woods rightly claims, we all deserve to be treated as the (equal and dignified) human beings we are.

habeogladium 9 years ago

begin60's comments do not represent the views of the majority of the disability community. Just because he/she doesn't realize that most decent human beings offer assistance to people who look like they need help, regardless of disability status, race, gender, etc. doesn't mean that all people with disabilities are inherently offended by polite offers of assistance. Yes, we may decline sometimes, but personally, I'd rather have someone offer help when I don't need it than have people keep walking by when I desperately need help. Just please, ask first. And the vast majority of the time your offer will be met with a cordial acceptance or refusal, unless of course the person happens to be begin60. Then, I imagine you would be screamed at and demeaned for daring to offer help.

JimmyJoeBob 9 years ago

What is Begin60's talking about? Lt. Woods did not sound condescending at all. A slap in the face like the one 60 just delievered makes everyone less likely to help in the future for fear of being ridiculed and called condescending.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

Brady is a great guy and I applaud any and all assistance he is offered. He is a great and dedicated weight lifter and deserves every opportunity to showcase it. Cheers to you Brady!

wordgenie8 9 years ago

Habeogladium, please realize that it is illegal to treat people differently based on prejudice -- and what could be more biased than approaching strangers in this officious manner, suggesting you are competent and they are second-class? Normally, in order to receive accommodations one has to self-identify-- if schools and employers were to start chasing after people in their official capacity offering "help" there would be lawsuits galore, as there rightfully should be. No, I believe bright, caring people usually have the courtesy not to bother strangers based on legally protected characteristics. "Help" must be mutual and based on understanding, not something imposed from without by a less than aware stranger. This is a destructive local cultural norm out of step with civil rights law that needs to go. For example, I have a visually impaired editor and professor/mentor friend who explodes with anger and sarcasm when people bother him on the street--how do you think he got there, people--he is capable of fending for himself and trampling on his independence is an unforgivable insult. It's a very intimate invasion of privacy to approach strangers in this way. I think that if people need help we can trust them to ask for it. Approaching strangers in this threatening, sef-aggrandizing way takes away their rightful sense of control and safety. I have never before been treated this way anywhere but MO and KS--- it's just crude manners and out of accordance with privacy and civil rights law. People with minor impairments in particular have often been taught to fend independently and being approached in public in this presumptuous way can be frightening and damaging to their confidence--after all you are suggesting that in the questionable judgment of a complete stranger "help" is in order. I regard this as a genocidal attack on intelligent life. It appears to be a programmed response, not a thoughtful, caring one.It is a "disabling" attitude that seeks to justify discriminatory treatment--basically treating people like stereotypes not human beings. It feels like a complete blow below the belt. Respect and honor and notice people for their abilities not their flaws. This behavior is actually only common in the less sophisticated areas of the country. I have been quite harshly and dishonestly blamed and punished by less than decent people for verbally resisting this privacy invasion and this is wrong. The law is on my side, so kindly mind your own business in public, and don't treat strangers so cruelly based on mere appearances. Personally, I love to contribute and give to others but fully realize that to interfere with the free choice, privacy and free movement of strangers just to vainly kid myself I was doing someone a good turn would be immoral. Impairments are real physical limitations-disabilities are the attitudes of society that create unfair roadblocks. The latter are truly damaging.

begin60 9 years ago

I disagree with Lt. Woods--that is, if he truly believes that patting ourselves on the back too heartily for "helping" makes us better people. Too many people seem to nearly break their arms doing so. Please respect privacy and civil rights law. If you see yourself as "helping" a stranger, but that person feels harassed to the point of losing their temper--isn't that a sign you are not really helping and might need to back off and not mess with people you don't know? The "helpee" is obviously the final judge of whether you are actually doing them a good turn.In general, I think local ideas about what constitutes helpfulness do tend to be presumptuous and insensitive. You can't help unless you know how to think, number one. Many people around Lawrence should try to show more respect for privacy and civil rights laws. Lt. Woods has a kind face though, and the Olympic competitors seem to be enjoying the special attention. Privacy law is obviously not a concern here: there seems to be some mutual respect.

somebodynew 9 years ago

And between wordgenie8 and begin60 you see why we have a society that doesn't give a d*** about trying to help one another (challenged or not).

If I can't approach someone and politely ask if I can be of assistance without having all kinds of BS law crap thrown at me about privacy laws and claims of prejudice and civil rights violations, just why in the h**l, would I try to offer.

I guess what these two are saying is if Anyone needs help, they better beg for it or be prepared to be sued. God, I hope I never meet either one of you.

habeogladium 9 years ago

Begin60 and wordgenie8 - Cite me a state or federal law (preferably with case law showing a court's interpretation) that says it is an invasion of privacy to ask someone if they need help. Have either of you brought charges under these laws you claim exist? I'm sure the world will be a better place when no one offers help to anyone, regardless of the situation. I'm guessing that the civil rights law you are referring to is the ADA, which prohibits unequal treatment of people with disabilities. Hate to tell you, that doesn't apply to private individuals on the streets. It only comes into play for employment (Title I), governmental agencies (Title II) and places of public accommodation (Title III). As far as privacy laws go, are you referring to HIPAA? HIPAA basically concerns the transfer and release of medical information within the health care system. Anyone can walk up to you on the street and ask you about your health without breaking any laws. Rude? Yes. Illegal? No.

Both of you have fallen into the trap of assuming that every interaction a person with disabilities has with anyone else must be related to the disability. Let's say someone offers to open a door for me. It may be because of my disability. It may be because of my gender. It may be because I have my hands full. It may be because they are entering the building ahead of me and their parents taught them it's polite to hold the door for the person behind you! Unless someone states it specifically, you can't assume that help is being offered because of your disability. There are a million other reasons someone could offer help. As strange as it may seem, some people are decent human beings who offer help to other people just to make their lives easier...with absolutely no consideration of disability status. I've lived in Lawrence for 1 year. In my experience, people here are no more and no less likely to offer help than people anywhere else in the US. Lawrence is not the backwards place you try to make it out to be.

For everyone else - As a person with a permanent and noticeable physical disability, I would like to say that if you offer me help and I don't need it, I will say "no, thank you." I will not threaten to sue you, or yell at, harass or demean you. If I need help, I will thank you graciously. The only time you will hear me get upset or angry is when help is forced on me without anyone asking if I need it, or when people won't take no for an answer. I have found this attitude to be true for the majority of the disability community. We know that sometimes we look like we need help when we don't. Please don't let the very small but very vocal minority of nasty people with disabilities make you think that all people with disabilities are unpleasant people. The vast majority of us are normal, well adjusted people that don't get our kicks insulting people who are trying to be nice.

/end damage control

meggers 9 years ago

A couple of weeks ago, I was struggling to reach a shrub that was on a tall rack at Home Depot when another, taller customer asked me if I wanted some help. I, for one, was appreciative of his gesture, even though I turned it down (I wanted to get the 'best one' and I didn't want to ask him to pull down multiple plants while I made up my mind about which one I wanted).

The point is that most of us appreciate an offer of kindness from a stranger, disability or not. To say that one shouldn't offer help to a person with a disability, based solely on the fact that they have a disability, is incredibly stigmatizing and it send the message that the individual needs to be treated 'differently'. Human kindness should be given generously, regardless of disability.

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