Special Olympics Vermont simply wouldn’t be the organization it is without its volunteers. Jessica Ryan-LeBlanc is a law enforcement officer with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department. A Rutland native, Ryan-LeBlanc was looking for a career where she could have a positive impact on the lives of the people in her community and found her way into law enforcement. She first volunteered to drape medals at a Special Olympics Vermont Bowling Tournament and has since volunteered twice for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run. Her passion for giving back to her community shines through her personality.
The 2016 Winter Games Law Enforcement Torch Run was the first time where Ryan-LeBlanc experienced a true feeling of purpose and gratification as a volunteer. She recalls her experience interacting with athletes during the awards ceremony.
“The feeling of being there when the athletes are focused and giving it their all is an overwhelming feeling of positivity. I walked away with a very happy spirit that day and I hope that the athletes realize how much they give back to the volunteers as well.”
In January, Ryan-LeBlanc accepted a post as the School Resource Officer at the West Rutland School. The most important and rewarding part of her job is forming relationships with students and ensuring that students from pre-K through high school have positive interactions with law enforcement. And while she is not an official coach or volunteer with the Unified Sports team, Ryan-LeBlanc often finds herself attending practices and helping students learn new skills. She believes Unified Sports impact school culture and West Rutland is proof of that.
“The relationships between teachers and students with disabilities show other students that being accepting of people with disabilities is normal. I think it send a strong message to the student body to be inclusive.”
Deputy Ryan-Leblanc is a member of Vermont’s Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Council. She looks forward to continuing to volunteer and helping to build inclusive communities. “I feel like I can give a lot,” she says. “But I’m getting so much more than I am giving.”
-Tucker Van Dusen Champlain College ’16