Last week I had the priviledge of attending the 2009 Law Enforcement Torch Run International Conference in Connecticut. Eleven law enforcement officers from New Mexico were in attendance – each having raised a minimum of $7,500 on behalf of our athletes. This year’s Torch Run generated over $34 million world-wide – $91,000 more than last year. You really can’t say enough about the amazing success our officers have had raising money, and it is no secret that if it were not for the Torch Run, Special Olympics would not be anywhere close to what it is today. Having spent the week being “inspired, motivated, and educated” as I listened to the stories of these dedicated servants, I returned to New Mexico with a deeper appreciation of the following:
The men and women in our cities and towns who carry the Flame of Hope for miles and miles run so that ignorance, judgment, cruelty, and the fear of difference will eventually disappear. The flame that burns in their hearts is what brings light to people’s darkness. It is the light that shines in each law enforcement Torch Runner that allows Special Olympics athletes to be seen unmistakably with dignity and respect.
Shawn Archuleta, John Francis, Jennifer Dennis, Robert Miller, Charlie Gonzales, Mike Miyagishima, Amanda Valencia, Michelle Ugalde, Bruce Pratz, Matt Elwelle, and Gerald Sandoval and every New Mexico law enforcement officer who participated – thank you for changing lives – thank you for changing attitudes- thank you for the reasons in your heart that inspire you to be the Guardians of our Flame. You give us hope.