Recently, over 100 federal, state, county and local police officers ran in the 19th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run in Florida's capitol city.
This year's run started at the Publix supermarket on West Pensacola Street and ended at the Capitol plaza, where runners joined Attorney General Bob Butterworth and Special Olympics athletes for a special ceremony. Major Gene Stokes of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office presented Butterworth with a plaque, inducting Florida law enforcement into the Special Olympics Hall of Fame in recognition for the millions of dollars officers have raised over the past 18 years.
The Special Olympics torch will be carried by law enforcement around the state and will wind up in Kissimmee on April 27 for the kickoff of the Spring Games. Almost 70 athletes from Leon County alone are expected to compete in soccer, volleyball, bocce, tennis, cycling and track and field.
The games are held for children and adults with mental disabilities. More than 1 million people around the world participate -- under the motto, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
"There's something special when you see that smile, when you look in their eyes and you see that joy, that total exhilaration at what they just accomplished, whether they ran 10 steps or 100," said one of the local law enforcement runners.
At the end of the run in Tallahassee, all of the participants enjoyed a well-deserved lunch hosted in part by the American Association of State Troopers.
FHP also organized one of the largest motorcycle runs ever in Citrus County that was held on Sunday, April 8. More than 200 motorcycles participated in the 1st annual Citrus County Spring Motorcycle Ride for Special Olympics. Over $4500, including sales from over 325 Special Olympics tee shirts and more than $500 in straight donations from this one event alone, has been raised for the 2001 Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign. Seven different police agencies across central Florida participated and the ride was absolutely outstanding, according to all of the riders. Many of the participants have already asked about next year's ride.
Special thanks go to Susie Tobin, of Land O' Lakes, Florida, who organized the Citrus Motorcycle Run and coordinated the Patrol's T-shirt sales.