Officers participate in Torch Run to raise awareness for Special Olympics

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:18 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - On Wednesday morning, officers from across the Kansas side of the metro carried the long tradition of raising awareness for the Special Olympics by carrying the Flame of Hope.

The tradition of running for this cause is still alive after more than 40 years, despite the rain that has plagued the Law Enforcement Torch Run the past few years.

“It just shows the true humanity side of law enforcement,” said Captain Jeremiah Waters with the Merriam Police Department. He is also the metro-regional coordinator for the run.

“We’re people too,” he said. “We want to be out here doing things for our community and our community members, especially those that need it the most.”

The run began at Main Event Entertainment in Olathe at 8 a.m. and ended with a ceremony at the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department FOP Hall at 5:15 p.m.

“There’s an adrenaline that hits you on Torch Run day that, like, you can just persevere,” said Emma McCullough, an Olathe police officer. “Last year, I ran 18 miles. So, my goal this year is to run 20.”

McCullough said she visited the 2019 international conference and gained new respect for an already good cause, as Kansas’ history with the organization runs deep.

“It gave me a sense of pride from being from Kansas,” she said. “So, it’s always really cool just to see people sign up and come together this one time every year.”

Captain Waters’ journey started years ago when he met an athlete who shared their story and struggles. He said he wanted to raise awareness that everyone can help out by showing we all can do the same things. It’s a tradition he has now passed on to the next generation.

“I’ve got kids that run with me every year,” he said. “They’ve done it since they were 6 and 7 years old. Now, they’re 16 and 17 years old.”

As part of the ceremonial 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics Kansas, the run is part of a 1,600-mile journey for the Flame of Hope across the state. Torch Runs are held in Kansas leading up to the annual summer games in Wichita.

The Final Leg of the Torch Run will take place in Wichita on June 2, which will conclude at Maize South High School during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2023 Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games.

More than 2,000 officers will take part in runs throughout the state. In total, Kansas LETR participants raised more than $500,000 for Special Olympics Kansas in 2022.

You can support the LETR fundraising efforts by clicking here.