Police officers run for Special Olympics
Published 7:03 pm Sunday, May 22, 2011
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
PELHAM – A group of more than 55 police officers lined up to run a torch miles around Pelham, Troy and Montgomery to raise awareness for the Special Olympics’ state games in Troy at the Pelham Civic Complex on May 20.
Officers from Jefferson and Shelby Counties pledged to run 2 to 2 1/2 miles in Pelham and Montgomery and 3-plus miles in Troy, during which they caravanned with motorcycle and patrol car sirens sounding to draw attention.
Ken Atkinson, the state director for the Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run, said last year the torch run began in Cullman and Hartselle, but due to the tornado damage, this year’s race began in Pelham, a more centrally located starting point.
Sgt. Mark Bishop of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has been running the torch run for six years.
“When we make it to Troy, the joy on their faces makes it worth it,” Bishop said of the Special Olympian’s faces. “We do a leg here (Pelham), and a leg in Montgomery on the Capitol steps. In Troy, we run the torch to the stadium.”
Pelham Police officer Debbie Warner said the Law Enforcement Torch Run was founded to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” Warner said. “We’re the guardians of the flame, and we’ll carry it into the stadium in Troy. When the athletes walk in, we’ll line up and cheer. It’s the purest form of sports. It’s all about acceptance.”