Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run raises money, awareness for Special Olympics

Members of Ferris State University’s police academy run during Thursday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run in Big Rapids. The annual event raises money and awareness for Special Olympics of Michigan and athletes. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

BIG RAPIDS — Amanda Weller beamed with excitement as she prepared for five kilometers of running.

Weller, a Special Olympics Global Messenger and Area 5 athlete, joined dozens of Ferris State University criminal justice students, local police officers, fellow Special Olympic athletes and students from the Mecosta Osceola Career Center Public Safety Course for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Thursday morning in Big Rapids.

The event is a statewide fundraising effort for Special Olympics Michigan, raising money and awareness for the organization and athletes to participate in events throughout the year.

Members of the public safety course at the Mecosta Osceola Career Center register for Thursday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run in Big Rapids. (Pioneer photo/Brandon Fountain)

“It’s my sixth year as a Special Olympics athlete to run,” she said. “I like to stay healthy. (The run) is a chance to give back to Area 5 athletes, going above and beyond what we can do as athletes.”

More than 40 communities throughout the state have runs this week, according to the Special Olympics of Michigan. These runners have raised money all year so they can participate in the event. LETR has more than 85,000 law enforcement officers involved worldwide and has raised more than $300 million dollars in the 39 years that it has supported Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Area 5 Director Pat Rosales said the statewide event raises around $1 million, which helps keeps costs down for local athletes to participate in State Games throughout the year.

“We always have great support from the community for Special Olympics,” she said, noting Area 5 athletes will have a second basketball team and a new softball team this fall. “The athletes really enjoy events like the run, which they can participate in. They like the interaction with law enforcement and the Ferris students and groups.”

Area 5 includes athletes from Mecosta and Osceola counties.

For more than two decades, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Sgt. Scott Paquette has organized the local run and saw a large turnout of runners.

“The run is a great way to raise money for local Special Olympics athletes,” he said. “It’s great to see so many people here.”

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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