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Special Olympics Torch Run

The Special Olympics community is grateful to the officers from around the world who raise awareness and funds through the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Officers and athlete race with the Torch during the 2011 Final Leg run in Greece

Eternal Flame. Officers and athletes running the Final Leg ahead of the start of the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Photo by Andrea Kramer.

Torch Run Hits 30-Year Mark

It's been a big anniversary year for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics. Then again, the last few decades have been pretty big as well. (For a quick and inspiring history of the Torch Run, take a look at this video.)

This year, ahead of the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, an international team of 145 members ran the Final Leg through Greece, and parts of Turkey and Cyprus. That team included 101 Law Enforcement officers, 10 Special Olympics athletes, plus support personnel. Final Leg runners are selected from all around the world to represent their Torch Run and Special Olympics programs.

In 2008, the Law Enforcement Torch Runs raised $34 million, making it the movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public relations vehicle. Since then, the impact of the Torch Run has only gotten bigger. In 2011, it raised more than $42 million.

The Torch Run funds raised are only part of what the police officers give. Above all, athletes say the law enforcement officers involved with the Torch Runs give them acceptance, friendship and encouragement.

Special Olympics gives thanks to these officers for their untiring support and salutes them for protecting the world and its citizens.



From a Flicker to a Flame

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas (USA), Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to increase awareness of Special Olympics. He also saw it as an ideal way to involve local law enforcement personnel with the Special Olympics community. Thirty years later, that flicker has become a roaring flame of stability for Special Olympic athletes worldwide.

Carrying the Flame of Hope

At its most basic level, the Torch Run is a running event in which officers and athletes carry the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremony of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games, and National Summer or Winter Games. Every two years, law enforcement officers from around the world gather to carry the Flame of Hope in a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg in honor of the Special Olympics World Summer or World Winter Games.

At its most fully developed, the Torch Run initiative encompasses a variety of fundraising vehicles in addition to the Torch Run itself. Torch Run fundraising includes T-shirt and merchandise sales, donations or pledges for runners in the Torch Run, corporate donations, special events such as Polar Plunges, golf tournaments or other events that have local appeal.

For general inquiries, please contact Christy Collum, (202) 824-0268 or

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