By Marvin Poquiz
This past September, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) won the latest Special Olympics San Diego region’s Chiefs Challenge. This means the law enforcement agency earned the right to carry the Flame of Hope in all of the San Diego region’s competitions for the next 12 months.
What is the Chiefs Challenge?
The Chiefs Challenge is a fundraising contest hosted during Special Olympics San Diego’s Plunge, Splash & Play.
Local Chief of Police or Executive Law Enforcement leaders recruit a team of three people, and raise $500 to compete in the Chiefs Challenge. On competition day, each of the three team members competes in a different task.
How does it work?
The Chief/Executive Leader races against their competitors down the tallest slide at SeaWorld’s water park, Aquatica.
After reaching the bottom of the slide, the second teammate is signaled to begin the physical challenge, which was to do 50 jumping jacks this year.
Once the physical challenge is completed, the third teammate begins the brain game, which was to find five out of nine sports that Special Olympics offers in a word search.
When the word search is finished, the first teammate is signaled to ring the bell to complete the entire challenge.
“Due to the number of competitors we had two separate heats, and the winners of those two hearts went head to head to decide the winner. Only the Chiefs compete in the head-to-head, by going down the slide one final time,” said Amanda Baumann, senior manager of development for Special Olympics San Diego.
Which law enforcement agencies were involved in the challenge?
This year, four agencies were involved:
- Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (CDCR) – Acting Chief Deputy Warden Joseph Stewart
- San Diego Police Department – Assistant Chief Paul Connelly
- San Diego County Sheriff’s Department – Undersheriff Michael Barnett
- Coronado Police Department – Chief Charles Kaye
Law enforcement agencies enjoy participating in these events alongside athletes. The officers expressed how much fun and rewarding it is to hand out the medals to the athletes.
“Typically, officers who have done it once want to return on a regular basis,” Amanda said.
“The love and joy our athletes show the officers is remarkable. Both sides light up and it is truly a beautiful thing to see. It is my favorite part about working with our law enforcement partners.”