Douglas Maifeld of Rumford, left front, runs in the 2016 Arizona Torch Run in Phoenix. He will serve on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team that delivers the Flame of Hope to the opening ceremony at the January 2022 Special Olympics World Games. Submitted photo

RUMFORD — Retired police Sgt. Douglas Maifeld of Rumford will serve on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team that delivers the Flame of Hope to the opening ceremony at the January 2022 Special Olympics World Games in Kazan, Russia.

Maifeld, 56, serves Regional School Unit 10 as school resource officer for the Rumford Police Department.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said Friday. “This is very important as it helps raise awareness for Special Olympics.”

Maifeld, who has supported Special Olympics for 33 years, will represent the Maine on the Final Leg Team, which consists of 120 members from 46 states and 25 countries, including 96 law enforcement officers, 10 Special Olympics athletes and logistics personnel.

Team members will also be participating in a polar bear plunge called the Blue Lake Leap in Kazan to benefit Special Olympics.

“Yes, water is a constant 48 degrees year-round and the air temperature should be approximately 19 degrees,” Maifeld said.

He has an fundraising page at app.mobilecause.com/vf/Leap/DouglasMaifeld, with a goal of $3,000. As of July 1, $500 had been raised.

“Please help if you can. No amount is too little!” he said. Donations can also be sent via [email protected] or 207-370-8405.

“I found out that 75% of the money raised by my fundraising leap in the lake will stay in Maine for Special Olympics,” he said.

The team will embark on different routes, running with the flame throughout cities and communities across Russia at various events, honoring the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and delivering a message of hope to communities where people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion.

Maifeld said there are 10 teams and he’s on Team 1.

“Each team will be running over different parts of Russia. We’ll be going from town to town and talking to the Russian people about what Special Olympics is, with the help of a translator,” he said.

Maifeld said he will also post photos of his experience during the event on his page, School Resource Officer – SRO Douglas Maifeld, and sharing on the Rumford Police Department Facebook page.

Following his return, he wants to use photos from the experience to make public presentations to raise awareness about Special Olympics.

The start of Maifeld’s career supporting Special Olympics began with an order from his police chief.

“The chief at the time threw a hat and a T-shirt at me and said ‘Here. Go do this’ and I haven’t stopped doing it,” he said. “I didn’t have anybody that I knew that had disabilities or anything like that. It was all new to me. Once I got involved, I became hooked,” he said.

Douglas Maifeld of Rumford will serve on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team that delivers the Flame of Hope to the opening ceremony at the January 2022 Special Olympics World Games. Submitted

“Special Olympics has a very special place in my heart. I’ve gotten way more from them in return than what I could give,” he said.

For the 34th time, Maifeld will be serving in the Maine Torch Run for Special Olympics in Orono on Oct. 28. Usually held in June, it was postponed due to COVID.

He’ll be running mostly with other officers to Dixfield for that leg of that run.

According to the Special Olympics website, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics.

More than 110,000 law enforcement members in all 50 U.S. states, 12 Canadian provinces/territories, and 44 other countries contribute to efforts annually as Guardians of the Flame, ensuring the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the opening ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial games, and national/regional games.

The law enforcement community has raised over a $750 million for Special Olympics. All dollars are raised in law enforcement’s off-duty time and the funds stay local to the communities they protect and serve.

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. It fosters acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership.

With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year.

Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.


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