Enfield police officer receives Special Olympics 'Unsung Hero' award
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Enfield, Stafford - posted Fri., Mar. 22, 2013
One Enfield police sergeant may not be out on the road making the big arrests; instead, he sits quietly at his desk, unassumingly flipping through a crime report or methodically planning and orchestrating volunteer events to help raise funds for the Special Olympics.
Many may not see the quiet and reserved officer as a hero, but for many involved with Special Olympics, he is a step up from a hero. For his dedication and selflessness, Sgt. Mark Squires was honored with the Unsung Hero Award at the Special Olympics Connecticut Hall of Fame Dinner: Celebrating 45 Years of Memories, at the Aqua Turf Country Club on March 20. The annual Hall of Fame event honors extraordinary athletes, volunteers and supporters who inspire joy through sport, promote inclusion and respect for individuals of all abilities, and demonstrate leadership, spirit and self-sacrifice.
“When I found out I was going to be receiving the award, I was speechless. It was a bit of a surprise, to say the least,” Squires said. “I didn’t expect it. Working the fundraisers isn’t about awards. I don’t do it for the recognition.”
At the various fundraisers and Special Olympic events, Squires has built relationships with many participants and their families. Squires has taken such a large stake in his role with the organization that he acts as a kind of mentor to one participant, talking to him regularly, typically bi-weekly through e-mail.
“When you see that, you get it,” Squires said. “It’s easy to be there for someone else to talk to.”
The Stafford Springs resident was hired to the police department in 1999 and within a year or two on the force he began to volunteer alongside other officers in events to benefit the Special Olympics. After being a part of the volunteer crew for about six years, he took an increased role and soon became the team captain and liaison.
Squires currently is the department’s liaison to the Special Olympics and currently is a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Council, which oversees and assists police departments statewide with their initiatives that benefit Special Olympics. Additionally he coordinates numerous fundraising events throughout the year, which has led the department to raise more than $35,000 and become one of the top fundraising departments in the state for Special Olympics.
Notable events he participates in include the Tip-A-Cop event where officers and department personnel volunteer their time as "celebrity waiters" to collect tips for the organization. This year’s Tip-A-Cop will be held at the Country Diner on April 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Squires also volunteers for the Cop on Top event, where he climbs on top of the Enfield Square and remains until his fundraising goal is met. He also participates in the Guts & Glory Quarry Challengers event at Brownstone Park, completing the obstacle course full of zip lines, cargo nets and rope climbs to support Special Olympics