The 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics got off to a cool and rainy start Saturday, May 21st but the conditions were perfect for the runners, according to First Responder Tom Champion of North Dakota who was first to carry the torch across the finish line. The Law Enforcement Torch Run was originally called the Sun Run where officers in a relay ran the Special Olympics Torch from Fairbanks to Palmer back in the 1970’s according to local Special Olympics organizer Tina Strayhorn, “Then in 1981the original national Torch Run was started in Kansas City and from their all states adopted the Law Enforcement Torch Run in conjunction with other first responders for the traditional event for the Special Olympics. The torch has crisscrossed American many times in all 50 states. We come together to celebrate our athletes and appreciate the support of our police officers and firefighters,” said Strayhorn. At the finish line law enforcement runners joined with the athletes to pass along the torch that refused to go out in the rain. “It’s awesome to see the smiles of the athletes as the cross the finish line with the torch. They are proud to carry it and you see their enthusiasm,” commented Kerrie Yarnes, an office assistant with the Alaska State Troopers who helps coordinate the Torch Run. Everyone was invited to participate in the race this year with no entry fee and Torch Run t-shirts available for a donation. This year’s race was a three mile run from the Park Strip to the Kenai Airport and back.
Following the race as the rain clouds lifted a bit the local Special Olympics held a picnic to show their appreciation. “All funds that were raised during our Torch Run will stay on the Peninsula to support our local athletes. This is important because these funds benefit the boys and girls who live here and who see around town throughout the year, shopping and working here and when you support them they proudly go and do their best to represent our community and compete in the Special Olympics,” added Strayhorn. You can learn more about supporting local Special Olympic athletes by going online to First Giving Special Olympics Alaska or to volunteer contact Tina Strayhorn at 907-223-1255.