Great Falls Athlete’s Speech Makes a Lasting Impression

Great Falls Athlete’s Speech Makes a Lasting Impression

Photo Caption: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and SOMT athlete Josh Anderson at the National Association of Attorneys General Summer Conference.

Vermont is beautiful this time of year! I should know, as I traveled there recently, escorting Great Falls Special Olympics Montana Athlete Extraordinaire Josh Anderson. Josh was selected to
present to a prestigious group: the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

This opportunity arose when Montana Attorney General Tim Fox contacted me concerning the NAAG’s Summer Conference. AG Fox sits on the executive council for the organization, and one of his responsibilities is getting pertinent speakers to present to this group.

Josh, AG Fox & Jack

L-R: SOMT athlete Josh Anderson, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox  & Montana LETR Director Lt. Jack Allen.

AG Fox has been a long time supporter of the Montana Law Enforcement Torch Run and attends as many of our functions as possible; he routinely attends our annual Kick-Off Conference. Well, in 2015, during our 30th Anniversary conference, AG Fox heard the keynote address delivered by our International Torch Run Director Mike Peretti. He was so impressed that, several months later, he asked for Mike’s phone number and invited him to make a presentation at the NAAG Summer Conference in Burlington, Vermont. Ag Fox saw it as a perfect fit – as attorneys general in most states are considered the top law enforcement officer.

In February, AG Fox again called and wanted to explore the idea of having a Special Olympics athlete represent Montana during Mike Peretti’s time slot. That’s where Josh comes in.

Josh prepared an 8 minute speech and delivered it in style. About half of all of the state attorneys general were in the audience, and staff for the remaining half were also present, along with other audience and the media. The total was about 200 people! Josh concluded by having the attorneys general repeat the athlete’s oath and he received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Of course Mike Peretti did an outstanding job, as usual, and his wife, Mary, was also able to join us. The Vermont LETR Director and his wife then presented us with thank you gifts, which included Vermont LETR T-shirts and 100% pure Vermont maple syrup. Josh even met the Governor of Vermont, and found out that his wife’s family is from Stockett, Montana!

Afterwards we visited with a number of people, and one lady I met was in tears and spoke about how moved she was by Josh’s presentation. AG Fox later emailed, “I sure appreciate having you and Josh in Vermont with me. Mike and Josh hit it out of the park! I had many people come up to tell me that they were moved by Josh’s comments. I know that I was moved… I look forward to seeing you soon.”

It wasn’t all business, as Josh and I got to have several meals out with AG Fox, Mike and Mary. Josh & I were also able to go on a 23 mile bike ride into the middle of Lake Champlain, and the next day we took the ferry one hour across the lake to ride our bikes in upstate New York. We rode to the Ausable Chasm, also called “the grand canyon of the Adirondack Mountains,” where we hiked and took a raft ride.

The NAAG covered all of our travel and lodging, and it was a very successful and rewarding experience for all involved. This same annual conference moves to Big Sky Montana in 2017 and we hope that our developing LETR relationship with this influential group will be both long-term and mutually beneficial!

If you would like to watch the presentation by AG Fox, Mike Peretti, and Josh, go to: https://vimeo.com/171671127

Lt. Jack Allen
Montana State LETR Director

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