Clallam Orcas make Special Olympics

It’s the team’s first year and they have 15 athletes competing for the gold May 30 in Fort Lewis.

The Clallam County Orcas have been practicing swimming and track and field events for several months, preparing for the 2008 Special Olympics of Washington.

Local law enforcement officers have been training, too, but for a May 28 torch run across the North Olympic Peninsula to the east side of the Hood Canal bridge in support of the games.

“It is so great to see both law enforcement agencies and our team both started up this year in support of the Special Olympics,” said Wendy Bonham, team organizer and track and field coach. “Clallam County now has great representation. Half of our team is from Sequim and the other half is from the Port Angeles area.”

Bonham and her husband, Russ, started training team members in bowling last fall to compete in their first regional tournament, where four athletes earned gold medals. Soon after was a regional basketball tournament, where the team took bronze, and now the summer games beckon the Orca swimmers, runners and jumpers.

Orca athletes invited to the state-level summer games generally won gold medals in regional competitions. Four swimmers won gold medals in a Kelso tournament, Heather Y. Murray, Alisha Stuber, Jenny Schaefer and Andrea Reise.

Nine team members took home gold medals in track and field at the Kelso event: Garet Bonham, James Carter, Bonny Cates, Chad Cannberg, Art Karjola, Patrick McFarland, Doug Severe, Dale Verlinde and Nina Wilson. Howie Gordon and Ursula Schletter also were invited for their competitive finishing times.

“When we moved to Clallam County, our son Chad was disappointed to see there was no team here,” Bonham said. “So we started one up and we have loved every second of it.”

After the summer games the Orcas will compete in a fall season softball game.

Torch run

For the first time in more than 20 years, North Olympic Peninsula law enforcement agencies have coordinated a torch run where deputies, corrections officers and police officers will carry the Special Olympics torch along the Olympic Discovery Trail on May 28 to raise support for the Washington Special Olympics.

Every year, law enforcement agencies statewide do a variety of fundraising efforts for the state’s Special Olympics, including the torch run. Clallam County Sheriff’s chief deputy Ron Cameron said it’s the sheriff’s intention to make the run a mainstay on the peninsula.

“It was in 1987 that we last participated in this run,” Cameron said. “Sheriff (Bill) Benedict and Chief (Robert) Spinks leaned in at the table during a state Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs meeting and said to me, ‘We have to get back on board with this,’ so we started organizing runners for 2008.”

Local residents can participate as well by donating to the Special Olympics or by providing water for runners. Sequim Police are expected to run through Railroad Bridge Park at about noon and continue through Sequim on the trail.

The Olympic Peninsula leg of the Washington Special Olympics torch run will start early at the Laird Road and U.S. Highway 101 intersection west of Port Angeles and continue along the Olympic Discovery Trail through Sequim and back along the highways to the Hood Canal bridge.

Each runner will take on between one and three miles along the 58-mile run. Cameron said he has one deputy, Karl Koehler, who wanted to do seven.

“Everyone is really excited about this and our ability to work together embodies both the spirit of the event and the relationship local law enforcement agencies have on the peninsula,” he said.

Sequim Police officers and staff members Sheri Crain, Kori Malone, Cathy Eldred, Marci Protze, Sandy McCulloch and Maris Turner will carry the torch through the Sequim area while other agency officers will take the torch to Kitsap County.

For more information on the Special Olympics of Washington, visit To learn more about the Orcas, to become an athlete or to volunteer time or support to the team, contact Wendy Bonham at 477-4134.

Donations made in support of the Special Olympics of Washington can be made through local law enforcement agency representatives.

• Clallam County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Ron Cameron, 417-2570

• Sequim Police Department, 683-7227

• In-kind donations, like water bottles for torch runners, also are accepted.
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