Police in Lake County go the distance to shine spotlight on Special Olympics
Zion Police Officers Paul Sage (left) and Steve Vines carry the "Flame of Hope" together as they participate in the Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run along Sheridan Road. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:25PM
Dozens of area law-enforcement officials spent their Sunday morning running. They were not chasing anyone — they were participating in the Torch Run.
More than 200 members of the law-enforcement profession, their family members and community residents participated in the Lake County portion of the Torch Run.
“I have been doing this for 21 years now. I go down to the Summer Games. It literally rejuvenates you and gets you excited about the upcoming year,” said Dave Thomas, a Lake Bluff police officer and leader of the Lake County portion of the Torch Run.
The Torch Run legs in Lake County were two of 23 legs across the state. About 3,000 officers participate in the Torch Run statewide. Representatives from each leg will carry a torch during the final leg, which will end at the stadium in time for opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics Illinois Games on Friday in downstate Normal.
Sunday was the day Lake County completed its portion of the run. Lake County’s share is 42 miles through the county. Each police department runs through its jurisdiction.
“We like doing it and it’s very rewarding,” Thomas said.
The Torch Run raises both money and awareness of the Games. Last year, the Illinois Torch Run raised $2.9 million.
“This year, the goal is to raise $3 million or more. We’re No. 1 in the world as far as money raised,” Thomas said.
Special Olympics is a non-profit organization offering 19 sports for more than 21,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and more than 11,000 athletes age 2- 7 with and without intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics helps with both physical fitness and self-esteem, according to Dave Breen, Special Olympics Illinois president and CEO.
“Thanks to the Law Enforcement Torch Run and its corporate sponsors, Special Olympics Illinois is better able to reach more athletes and offer them more year-round training and competition opportunities. Special Olympics Illinois athletes are able to participate in the program free of charge thanks to sponsors like the Law Enforcement Torch Run,” Breen said in a press release.