This spring has been an exciting time at Special Olympics Virginia with a myriad of local activity, the VMI Games, the Bedford Softball Invitational, the Law Enforcement Torch Run; all leading up to a wonderful Summer Games.
This spring also marked the passing of some very wonderful Special Olympics athletes; most of them way too young; most of them passing very suddenly and unexpectedly.
Albie Torkelson was one of those very special people. He was a gentle and independent soul who loved a challenge and faced each one with a contagious smile.
Albie supported his local law enforcement officers in the Rockingham Sheriff’s Office and the Harrisonburg Police Department, as they raised funds and created awareness for Special Olympics Virginia through the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Rockingham Sheriff Don Farley, who knew Albie Torkelson for 18 years and spoke at his funeral, had this to say, “Albie was always smiling, always positive. He just sucked you into his world. I told Tammy, Albie’s mother, that there is a photo of Albie and me hanging in my office; arm in arm at a Special Olympics event. I told her I am lucky because I will always have Albie to watch over me.”
A few years ago Albie showed up at Mayes Karate in Harrisonburg for a free lesson. Karate quickly became a passion for Albie. He had achieved brown belt status and had almost completed his training for a black belt. At Albie’s funeral, William May, an instructor at Mayes Karate, presented Albie’s mother with an honorary black belt.
“Albie was a very gentle soul and very kind to others,” said May. “He was always working really hard in class; I couldn’t be more proud of him. Everybody wanted to be as much a part of his life as he wanted to be a part of theirs.”
Don Farley and William May didn’t say these things just to be nice; although they were nice things to say. They said them because Albie Torkelson was their friend; because Albie impacted their lives as much as they impacted his; because when Albie walked with Don and William, he did not walk as one among them he walked as one of them.
Way to go, Albie!
Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President