The past two weeks hundreds of law enforcement officers have been running the Special Olympics torch across New Mexico. I know that for a fact because I have received numerous phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts – all from people who have seen them running through Hobbs, Shiprock, Tularosa, Lordsburg, etc.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run raises a lot of money and generates tremendous awareness for Special Olympics world-wide. Since its beginning twenty-five years ago our Torch Run in New Mexico has raised over $2.5 million dollars. That alone makes for a great story, but the really great story lies in the officers themselves.
Most start out running the Torch because as one officer described it – they are “voluntold” by a higher ranking officer. They show up in running shoes – purchase a Torch Run t-shirt, are handed a Torch and are told to run. Sometimes they run in groups – a lot of times they run alone. Most of them start out knowing very little about Special Olympics. Most have never met a Special Olympics athlete. They just run – for miles and miles through the desert, mountains, and flat lands of New Mexico they run. If things go as planned, they will from that experience end up at a Torch Run function of some kind, or maybe they will even present medals to athletes at a Special Olympics Competition. They may even find themselves travelling to Albuquerque to run the Final Leg into Opening Ceremonies of our State Summer Games.
No matter where or when – the moment they are face-to-face with athletes “it” happens. The connection is made and Law enforcement officers transform from voluntold Torch Runner to Guardian Of The Flame Of Hope.
The rest is history. The Torch Run lives on in them with a passion, and because it does – hope is given to every child born with an intellectual disability. Hope is given to every family searching for a place of accomplishment, celebration, and respect.
Special Olympics New Mexico and Law Enforcement Torch Run will celebrate our 25 years together wildly on Friday night May 20th at the UNM Track Stadium. Our 2011 Summer Games are dedicated to any and every officer who has ever run a step on behalf of our athletes. If you come to Opening Ceremonies and the Games, love on the officers who are there. Thank them for running our Torch because Special Olympics New Mexico would not be who we are without them.