Chilliwack – Someone only has to meet Betty once for her zeal of life to inspire and lift their spirit. That was not always the case for Betty Colk, 56, a volunteer for over twenty years with Chilliwack RCMP Community Policing, but determination, a meeting with a RCMP officer, and the sound advice of an uncle, transformed her life forever.
Born in Calgary Alberta, Betty suffered intellectual disabilities caused by the lack of oxygen to her brain at birth, which she freely admits, made life growing up a ‘rough’ learning experience. At the age of two Betty moved to Agassiz where she lived with foster parents, growing up fishing and camping, until at eighteen she moved to a second foster home. In school however, Betty was bullied and had few friends, never graduating from high school.
In her twenties, Betty participated in a program which aided young adults with learning disabilities to gain work experience and find a career. She chose police work as her career, and as part of the program’s curriculum, made an appointment to interview a RCMP officer at the downtown Chilliwack Community Policing Office (CPO). So scared she couldn’t look the constable in the face, Betty none-the-less, made a strong impression and was hired on the spot by the officer as a volunteer at the CPO.
While volunteering during a RCMP fund raising function for the occasion, Betty was introduced to Special Olympics BC and her passion of athletics – coupled with her uncle’s timely advice to ‘focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do’- was ignited.
Over twenty two years later Betty continues to put her heart and soul as an athlete into both swimming and bowling competitions around the Okanagan and Lower Mainland. With the support of her RCMP family, the coaching provided by Special Olympics BC volunteers, and physical training, Betty has learned to develop her abilities as a person and athlete to meet challenges, such as her fear of water, to manage these obstacles and, to go on to win ribbons in the back stroke event at swim meets.
Since 1980, Special Olympics BC has provided high-quality, year-round sports programs for athletes around the province with the goal of providing individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunities to enrich their lives and celebrate personal achievement through positive sport experiences.
On May, 31, 2016, RCMP officers in Chilliwack, in conjunction with Law Enforcement personnel in their 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. The 3 kilometer LETR run starts at 11:00 a.m. from Sardis Secondary –for runners- and Save-On Foods in Sardis –for walkers- and finishes at PRTC”, said Sgt. Forbes Cavanagh of Chilliwack RCMP.
When speaking of life, Special Olympics BC, and her RCMP family Betty says, “Once you find your place in life go with it, be a leader. 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”.