Two weeks ago, along with our SONM Law Enforcement Torch Run Liaison and two SONM athletes who serve on our Torch Run Executive Committee, I attended the 2010 International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference in Long Beach, California. It was awe-inspiring to be in the presence of over 1100 law enforcement officers – all so deeply committed to Special Olympics athletes.
New Mexico sent officers from Albuquerque Police Department, Belen Police Department, Otero County Sheriffs Office and Otero County Prison, Rio Rancho Police Department, New Mexico Department of Corrections, Alamogordo Public School Security, Farmington Police Department, Dona Ana County Sheriffs Office, Las Cruces Police Department, Santa Fe Police Department, and the New Mexico Mounted Patrol. I share all of that with you because I think it’s important that you know where they are from.
During the Conference we learned that this year’s Torch Run generated more than $38.2 MILLION for Special Olympics world-wide! Our officers in New Mexico raised $280,000 in 2010, and since its inception in 1981, the New Mexico Torch Run has raised $2.5 MILLION. I can barely get my arms around this kind of commitment, let alone the number of lives that have been changed because of it. As I looked into the faces of these officers all week, I struggled to think of a word tht would adequately describe them. During one of the general sessions, one Special Olympics athlete called them “righteous dudes.” I laughed at that until I looked up “righteous” in the dictionary and read “arising from an outraged sense of justice.”
International Torch Run Conferences are emotional. Listening to law enforcement officers share their personal stories about the athletes that have touched their lives and changed their lives is well-worth the investment, but here’s the thing. You don’t need to go to a conference to experience all this. We have over 700 cops in New Mexico who carry our Torch, raise money, and generate respect and acceptance for our athletes. Have you listened to their stories and personally thanked them for what they do? If not – as we enter into our 25th Anniversary of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Torch Run – now would be a great time to do it.