On a beautiful day in July 2018, over 4,000 Special Olympic athletes and their coaches, representing 50 states and the District of Columbia, gathered in Seattle to compete in 14 Olympic-style team and individual sports. The Maryland contingent entered the stadium to the loud roar of cheers and leading the way was Charles County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Augustus (Gus) Proctor.
“It was one of the proudest moments of my life and is something I will never forget,” Proctor said.
2018 Special Olympics Games: https://youtu.be/6UT8TrLm4ok
For over 30 years, Proctor has dedicated his life to serving the community through his service with the Charles County Sheriff’s Department.
On September 1, 2021, Proctor will be retiring after over 30 years of dedicated service. He began his law enforcement career in 1991, when he started working at the Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Division of Corrections. In 1994, Proctor became a sworn law enforcement officer with the Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Patrol Division.
Proctor became involved in the community when he was transferred to the community unit in 2005. Today, Proctor serves as the Administrative Sergeant for Districts 1 and 2, in La Plata and Indian Head respectively.
As part of his duties, Proctor went to western Maryland on a cold February day to pass out medals to Special Olympics athletes at the annual Deep Creek Dunk — he was hooked!
“The smiles from the athletes were everything and I knew [then] I wanted to do more to help,” Proctor said. Due to the pandemic this year, the 23rd Annual Deep Creek Dunk was rescheduled until September 2021.
Over the last several years, Proctor has dunked at the Deep Creek Dunk, plunged at the Polar Bear Plunge and been chased by zombies at the Zombie Run. Through these exhilarating activities, Proctor has had the opportunity to connect with many amazing Special Olympians, their families and supporters.
Proctor has made a big impact in the community, according to John Flatley, the owner and operator of Chick-fil-A La Plata.
“I’ve known and worked with Gus for more than 15 years. I have never met anyone who is as focused and committed to a cause as Gus is to Special Olympics… Gus is committed not only to the cause but to the Olympians,” Flatley said. “Gus has a personal and special relationship with what seems like every Olympian in Charles County.”
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETR) became a fundraising opportunity that is near and dear to Proctor. The Torch run was first held in 1981, when Police Chief Richard LaMunyon realized there was a need to increase awareness and funding for the Special Olympics. He also saw it as the perfect way to get local law enforcement personnel involved with the Special Olympics community.
The Torch Run has grown over the last several years and now includes many fundraising platforms including plane pulls, polar plunges and Tip-A-Cop events. Since its inception, LETR has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs.
Proctor became involved with the Torch Run in 2006, and for the past ten years he has been the regional coordinator for the Southern Maryland area.
Annual t-shirt sales make up a large part of the fundraising for the Torch Run, and thanks to the efforts and dedication of Proctor, the Southern area has sold more than some other states.
In 2006 there were 12,000 t-shirts sold and last year there were 90,000 t-shirts sold with the profits going to the national and local Special Olympics organizations. Of the money raised by the Torch Run, 25% goes to the local Special Olympics organization.
“That can help a lot!” Proctor said.
The t-shirts are sold by local businesses including, hair salons, insurance offices, medical offices and stores. Individuals interested in supporting the Torch Run are always welcome to contribute.
Proctor enjoys posting pictures of those who sell the annual t-shirts or make donations to the cause.
“Not only does it get the word out about the Torch Run; it also creates a friendly competition between businesses.” Proctor said.
The pictures also give Proctor the opportunity to personally thank those who are helping make a difference — and don’t worry he always has t-shirts… in his car, in his garage, in a storage unit.
“They are everywhere!” Proctor said. “My wife, Anna, is the most understanding, patient person ever. She puts up with [a] garage full of t-shirts and [puts up with] me running off at all hours to deliver t-shirts,” he said.
Proctor has a number of businesses assisting him with fundraisers, making donations and helping to get information out about the Torch Run. Local restaurants such as Rucci’s, Chick-fil-A LaPlata and Texas Roadhouse LaPlata actively participate in fundraising efforts. On June 10, Rucci’s will be holding a fundraiser to support the Torch Run.
“Gus Proctor is not just a police officer in Charles County, he has devoted his life to helping the community to be better. The Deniston family is proud to call him a friend, and also proud of all his work with our Special Olympic athletes,” LeVerne Deniston, a Special Olympic parent and supporter, said.
The Torch Run, which usually takes place in June, this year will take place on September 23. The event will be in-person and/or virtually and t-shirt sales will continue until September. Businesses and individuals wishing to participate can contact Proctor at email@example.com. T-shirts will also be mailed to those who are not available to meet Proctor.
“Gus is a quiet man of few words but his energy and dedication to the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics speaks volumes and we are really lucky to have him in Charles County,” Dottie Fazenbaker Ratcliffe, a Special Olympic parent and supporter, said.
The community support has been overwhelming, and I am so appreciative. I would not be able to do what I do without everyone’s help,” Proctor said. “Being a part of the Torch Run is my greatest joy,” Proctor said.
And Proctor will not stop with Special Olympics — he also supports Lifestyles of Maryland through their bicycle drive. “They always need bikes, toys, and scooters,” he said. This is an ongoing effort and anyone who wishes to donate can contact LifeStyles of Maryland at https://www.lifestylesofmd.org/.
Another LifeStyles of Maryland initiative important to Proctor is their seasonal fundraisers for children. At Christmas, they collect presents for children who would not have much for Christmas and at Easter, the organization provides baskets full of Easter goodies.
“It is so rewarding to know a child is taken care of,” Proctor said. “They never turn a child away.”
Sergeant Proctor has received many recognitions for his support to the community. The most recent ones include:
– In 2017, he received a Sheriff’s Award for commitment to Special Olympians and his unwavering support of Special Olympics.
– In 2019, he received the Maryland Sheriff’s Association 2019 Community Services Award for his outstanding performance record in the community outside his normal police assignments.
– In May 2021, was awarded the 2020 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year from the Department of Maryland, Southern Maryland District of the American Legion.
“Gus is an institution in Charles County,” Flatley said.
Support for the Special Olympics through businesses is vital to the fundraising effort. The more people involved; the more money is raised — and this is a good thing! With businesses and individuals getting involved, this can be their biggest year yet.
Looking toward the future, Proctor has accepted a civilian position as a community organizer with the sheriff’s department. He will oversee community events such as, National Night Out, the County Fair, Crime Watch Kick-Off and Project Graduation. He starts the new position in September.