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Carrying the torch for Special Olympics

Thirty-three local law enforcement officers participated in the annual Special Olympics Torch Run Wednesday on US 67 from the Madison County line to the Jefferson County line.

Desloge Police Chief James Bullock, who organizes the torch run, said about half the runners were police officers and the other half were corrections officers. The participating law enforcement agencies were Farmington Police, Desloge Police, Bismarck Police, Leadington Police, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department and the correctional centers from Bonne Terre and Farmington. This year, four Fredericktown officers participated in St. Francois County’s run. Madison County does not do a torch run.

He would have liked to have had more participants but said it was a success and no one was injured or hurt.

Norman Forbes, an employee of the Farmington Correctional Center, ran and sometimes walked from the Highway 221 exit on U.S. 67 to the Jefferson County line.

Thirteen-year-old Phil Cook had planned to participate in the run with his dad, Deputy Phil Cook Jr.

“They had made plans to run together,” Patti Cook said. “His dad, however, ended up having to have surgery on his elbow (Tuesday) and wasn’t able to run. Little Phillip still wanted to do it, so my husband took him over …”

Deputy Cook had run before but this was the first time his son had run. His son ran a total of 11 miles.

“He had a lot of fun and told me when I talked to him after the run that he felt he could have run more, but his dad made him take breaks. He says he had such a good time that he now plans to run the 5k with our church. We are very proud of him.”

Bullock commended motorists for slowing down and moving to the left lane. He said motorists were more courteous this year to the runners and the escort police vehicles.

The Statewide Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Missouri, founded by the Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA) 27 years ago, began May 15 and will end Tuesday. More than 1,000 runners from 125 agencies from across the state will participate in the 2012 Torch Run.  These runners will complete 42 different routes and cover more than 1,000 miles across Missouri.

 Law enforcement officers from around the state are running the torch to raise awareness for Special Olympics Missouri and the 2012 State Summer Games. The State Summer Games will be held at University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday through Friday. The culmination of the Torch Run — the lighting of the Flame of Hope — will take place during the Opening Ceremonies Tuesday at Carnahan Quad, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes participate in 21 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with mental disabilities continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community.

Special Olympics is law enforcement’s charity of choice, not only in Missouri, but throughout the United States and in 46 countries worldwide. Nearly 200 Missouri law enforcement agencies are attempting to raise $2,176,500 this year through various fundraising initiatives including the Polar Plunge, selling Torch Run T-shirts and organizing special events like a trap skeet shoot.

“They are passionate about raising money and awareness for SOMO,” said Mark Musso, Special Olympics of Missouri president and CEO. “Law enforcement has been the largest supporter of the Special Olympics movement worldwide; we are forever grateful.” 

In 2011, Missouri’s Torch Run was ranked seventh in the world based on gross dollars raised. Chris Pigg, Chief of the Herculaneum Police Department, chairs the Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee.

 Shop’n Save is the Presenting Sponsor of Missouri’s Torch Run, providing year-round fundraising assistance. In 2011, they contributed more than $485,000 to SOMO. Missouri benefits from the fundraising efforts to more than 30 stores.

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