Local police officers, deputies and volunteers showed their support for Special Olympic athletes on May 31 during the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“This is a great event for the community,” Great Bend Police Officer Jazmine Bell said. “The athletes look forward to it every year. It is a great way for them to show their skills and to get out and have a lot of fun.”
The run started in Barton County Thursday morning when GBPD officers met the Pawnee County officers at the county line just outside Pawnee Rock.
“We have had so much support this year for this event. Barton County Sheriff’s office, Pawnee County and Larned law enforcement agencies helped get this going for the athletes,” Bell said.
Barton County officers ran to Great Bend and arrived around 11:45 a.m., meeting with the athletes at K-96 and 17th St. Terrace. Once they gathered, the group walked east to the shelter house on the southwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park where they had lunch.
“This is such a good cause and it means a lot to us officers with helping these athletes reach their goals and having fun. It really reaches a lot of people and that is what is great about it,” Bell said.
According to Kansas Special Olympics, since its inception in Wichita, many more Kansas law enforcement agencies have participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This fundraising campaign does more than raise thousands of dollars for Special Olympics. It gives officers, athletes and the community the opportunity to come together for a superior cause.
Whether inspired to volunteer, donate or participate, they are confident knowing they are supporting the Special Olympics Kansas mission to provide individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to be an athlete through acceptance, inclusion, physical fitness, health and nutrition programs, and leadership development.
In late April and throughout the month of May, the Flame of Hope travels from all corners of the state to the State Summer Games in Wichita. Officers from many different agencies escort the torch on assigned legs throughout their local communities. The final leg is the culmination of the run, from Wichita City Hall to the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games at Wichita State University.
The Most Inspirational Athlete of the preceding year carries the torch into the stadium escorted by the officers and together they light the cauldron to open the State Summer Games. Officers award medals throughout the three days of competition.