Law enforcement officers from St. Francois County teamed up this morning for the annual Torch Run for Special Olympics.
Officers from Farmington Police Department, Desloge Police Department, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, Farmington Correctional Center, Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center, Probation and Parole, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have signed up to run in the event this year.
The Torch Run is an annual run that takes law enforcement officers from the southern end of the county to the northern end of the county as a show of solidarity and support for Special Olympics Missouri.
Desloge Police Chief James Bullock is in charge of organizing the run and said that as of Tuesday morning, 54 law enforcement officers have signed up to run in the event.
The run began at 6 a.m. at the Madison/St. Francois County line on U.S. 67. Farmington Police Department starts the run at the Madison County line location and then other officers gather at the St. Francois County Jail and join with Farmington in the run at the U.S. 67 and Columbia Street interchange (at approximately 7 a.m.) Runners continue along the right shoulder of U.S. 67 to the Jefferson County line, ending before noon.
Bullock noted that a group of special needs children from North County School District would be joining the group near the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses church on the outer road in Desloge. The youth will run with officers just a short distance to the Desloge exit.
Bullock said that he wishes to thank the Missouri Department of Transportation as they provide an escort for the runners.
“MoDOT typically follows the group with a flashing arrow sign signally drivers to merge into the left-hand lane,” said Bullock.
In addition, Bullock said that St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department deputies provide a front-end escort for the group of runners.
Bullock said he would like to ask drivers to be patient with runners as they are out for a good cause.
“We know this is a slight inconvenience,” said Bullock, “but it is only once a year and it is for an excellent cause.”
Bullock said that he has been involved with Special Olympics since 1995 and said that law enforcement has sort of adopted the organization.
“Law enforcement contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the organization annually,” said Bullock.
Special Olympics Missouri Development Manager Crystal Schuster said that law enforcement Torch Runs across the state raise about $2 million annually. The Missouri Special Olympics operates on an approximate $7.5 million budget per year. This means that law enforcement contributes almost an average of 26% of the organization’s operating budget.
Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.