49 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www. ShemCreekRes taurant s . com Charleston native Carl Ritchie has always lived a life of service. From the military to law enforcement to Mount Pleasant Town Council, everywhere he goes he tries to leave things better than he found them. Presently his focus is on the South Carolina Special Olympics Powerlifting team, where he’s using physical fitness and strength training to empower young athletes to succeed in the gym and beyond. Born and raised in Charleston, Ritchie joined the Air Force as a young adult, serving his country before returning home to pursue a career in law enforcement. Originally hired by the North Charleston Police Department, Ritchie transferred to Mount Pleasant six months before Hurricane Hugo decimated the area. Talk about trial by hurricane; as Ritchie helped his beloved Lowcountry recover, he knew he’d found his calling. In 2013, Ritchie was promoted to chief, ultimately spending over three decades with the department. One of his proudest moments came in 2015, when he helped organize the Unity Walk that followed the Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre. “Over 10,000 people crossed the bridge on that walk,” he said. “We were able to protect our town while also protecting the rights of the people who wanted to protest the right way.” Ritchie retired from police duty in May 2021 and promptly found a new way to serve—he ran for Town Council. “I wanted to find a new way to take care of our community, especially my police and fire guys,” he said. He won his race and currently serves on the Mount Pleasant Town Council. POWERLIFTING AND THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS Ritchie also gives back to the community through championing the Special Olympics, a cause which he has been involved in for a long time. His love of powerlifting eventually spurred him to help in this specific area. “I have a passion for powerlifting and fitness,” said Ritchie, a competitive powerlifter who represented South Carolina in the Police and Fire Championships in 1997. Several times he received the honor of lighting the torch for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, escorting a Special Olympics athlete at the run’s start. The torch travels from the coast up to Columbia in a multi-day run as a kick-off to the annual Special Olympics South Carolina competition. When Ritchie heard that the Special Olympics has a powerlifting event but didn’t have a team here in the Charleston area, he knew he had to get involved. “I made some inquiries, checking on athlete interest in the area,” he Power (Up) Lifting BY LEAH RHYNE our town with Carl Ritchie Photos prov i ded by Car l R i t ch i e . Hard wor k at the spec i a l o l ympi cs . R i tch i e and par t i c ipant s runn i ng the torch .