Local law enforcement officers and members of The Storm Special Olympics team met in front of the Wetlands Waterpark on Wednesday to continue a tradition. They carried the “Flame of Hope,” a torch that will light the fire Friday at the 2015 Special Olympics Summer Games at Wichita State University.
The torch and team banner were carried half a mile, to the Barton County courthouse square, where everyone enjoyed food and drinks. The Great Bend Police Department and Barton County Sheriff’s Office participated.
Carole Edwardson, one of the organizers for The Storm, said 26 team members will travel to Wichita for the games, which will take place Friday through Sunday. Each athlete will compete in three track and field events. They’ve been practicing for the past eight weeks for running long jump, standing long jump, softball throw, shot put, running and walking events, and relays.
Luke Schulte, vice president of development for Special Olympics Kansas, said officers across the state are supporting the games with Law Enforcement Torch Runs, like the one last week from Larned to Great Bend. Wednesday’s half-mile trek down Main Street completed that leg of the relay.
“We’re very grateful for them to do this,” Schulte said. “It’s wonderful to see the law enforcement officers and the local athletes come together.”
Detective Heather Smith at the GBPD organized this year’s gathering in Great Bend. She said officers are interested in expanding their Law Enforcement Torch Run in the future. “Maybe we’ll do a relay locally, within the city limits — maybe a color run.”
Individuals can still support the Kansas Special Olympics by making a secure donation online at www.kansastorchrun.org, or by purchasing a T-shirt for $20 at the GBPD, 793-4120, or contact Detective Smith by calling 620-786-0562.