Someone only has to meet Betty Colk once for her zeal of life to inspire and lift the spirit.
This determined Calgary born woman, now aged 56, has been a volunteer with Chilliwack RCMP Community Policing for more than 20 years.
Betty freely admits that her intellectual disabilities, caused by a lack of oxygen to her brain at birth, made growing up a “rough” learning experience.
At the age of two, she moved to Agassiz where she grew up fishing and camping with her foster parents. At age 18, she moved to a second foster home.
She didn’t have a great experience in school. She had few friends, was bullied, and never graduated high school.
But in her twenties, Betty participated in a program which helped young adults with learning disabilities to gain work experience and find a career. She chose police work.
As part of the program’s curriculum, she made an appointment to interview a RCMP officer at the downtown Chilliwack Community Policing Office (CPO). Although she was so scared she couldn’t look the constable in the eye, Betty nonetheless made a strong impression, and was hired on the spot as a volunteer at the CPO.
While volunteering during a RCMP fundraising function, Betty was introduced to Special Olympics B.C. (SOBC). Recalling her uncle’s advice to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t, she decided to pursue it.
Since 1980, SOBC has provided high-quality, year-round sports programs for athletes around the province. They provide individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunities to enrich their lives and celebrate personal achievement through positive sport experiences.
More than 22 years since she started, Betty continues to pour her heart and soul as an athlete into swimming and bowling competitions around the Okanagan and Lower Mainland.
With the support of her RCMP family, the coaching provided by SOBC volunteers, and physical training, Betty has grown greatly as a person and as an athlete.
She’s overcome many challenges – including a fear of water – with bravery, and has the awards to show for it.
“Once you find your place in life go with it, be a leader,” Betty says of her experiences with both SOBC and the RCMP. “I focus on my good points. I feel alive inside, happy, proud, like a human being, like I am contributing and able to help others.”
“I was always alone before and I’m not alone anymore, I don’t have to run away anymore. This is my family,” she said.
On May 31, RCMP officers in Chilliwack, in conjunction with Law Enforcement personnel from communities throughout the Lower Mainland, will participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics.
“The BC Law Enforcement Torch Run raises funds and awareness for Special Olympics BC in our community,” said Sgt. Forbes Cavanagh of Chilliwack RCMP. The three kilometre LETR run starts at 11 a.m. at Sardis Secondary for runners, Save-On Foods in Sardis for walkers, and finishes at the Pacific Region Training Centre (PRTC – 45537 Calais Crescent).
Learn more about the run at specialolympics.bc.ca.