On May 25, 2010, I participated in the 25th Anniversary of the Missouri Law Enforcement Torch Run. For those of you not familiar with this event, the Law Enforcement Torch Run is an annual run sponsored by the Special Olympics and law enforcement agencies around the country and in 35 other nations to support the athletes who compete in the Special Olympics. During the run a “Flame of Hope” is carried, much like during the work up to the actual Olympic Games.
According to the Special Olympics website, more than 85,000 law enforcement officers participated in the Torch Run in 2008 raising $34 million.
A little history on the Torch Run from the Special Olympics website:
The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise funds for, and increase awareness of, Special Olympics. The Torch Run was quickly adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), now recognized as the founding law enforcement organization of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
Our particular course was a 5-mile run through the downtown area of our city, finishing at one of the local elementary schools where numerous Special Olympians and their families were waiting to greet us. Different officers were allowed to carry the Torch providing for team work and camaraderie.
This is an event that really makes you appreciate the job that you do, and the opportunity to give back to the community. It also provides a great opportunity to work with brothers and sisters from neighboring law enforcement agencies for a great cause, or to challenge those from other shifts within your own department.
The Special Olympics also sponsors other fund-raising activities such as the Polar Bear Plunge, where participants jump into ice-filled waters.
I would encourage any law enforcement officer to participate in one of these events and help a worthy cause. The smiles on the Special Olympians faces are something that will stick with you forever.
For more information on how you can participate or organize your own event check out the Special Olympics website.