By REID TUCKER
The weather always seems to do its level best to freeze or soak the law enforcement officers participating in the annual Torch Run for Special Olympics, but spirits at the event could not be dampened.
Dreary and chilly weather aside, the Walton County leg of the statewide torch relay went off without a hitch on Thursday, March 27, as men and women from several local law enforcement agencies carried the Special Olympics’ “flame of hope.” Participating runners took turns carrying a banner and the Olympic torch down the 1.5-mile stretch of U.S. 90 to the Walton County Courthouse to raise awareness for the state-level games, held each May at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports. The Special Olympics Torch run raises $34 million, on average, each year and more than 85,000 officers from 35 countries participate annually, while more than 3,000 members from 300 state and local law enforcement agencies carry the torch 1,500 miles across 60 Florida counties.
All told, about 30 runners, both Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement personnel, took part in the event. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office, DeFuniak Springs Police Department, Florida Department of Corrections, Walton County Department of Correction, Florida Parole Commission, Florida Highway Patrol, United States Probation Office, and the State Attorney’s Office, among others all had representatives at the 2014 run. Florida Department of Corrections specialist Eugene Mims has coordinated the local Torch Run for years, and he said local participation was heavier this year than usual, alongside increased interest from state agencies shows that awareness for Florida’s Special Olympics continues to grow.
For more information regarding the Law Enforcement Torch Run or Special Olympics, visit http://specialolympicsflorida.org.
By REID TUCKER