Pelham, Calera officers participate in Special Olympics torch run

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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By RACHEL RAIFORD | Staff Writer 

Led by a trail of law enforcement vehicles, officers from the Pelham and Calera Police Departments ran in this year’s Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. 

The ALETR travels through the state for four days, visiting more than 10 cities that all participate in the run. The end of the run is typically on the day the Alabama Special Olympics begin. 

While this year’s Special Olympics were postponed due to inclement weather, the Pelham and Calera Police Departments still showed up for the cause. 

The Pelham Police Department kicked off Shelby County’s leg of the run on Friday, May 17 at 10 a.m. The officers dedicated the run to officer Juan Gomez, who died from complications of COVID-19 in 2021. 

Bob Copus, law enforcement liaison for Special Olympics Alabama, spoke highly of those who donated and the officers who showed their support during the run. 

“The heart of this department is with the Special Olympic athletes,” Copus said. “It’s a satisfying adventure for these officers too, they really enjoy it. It’s all about the community.” 

As the officers took off, Lt. Norm Bernard led the line holding the Special Olympics Alabama torch. 

The officers began at the Pelham Civic Complex and headed down Amphitheatre Road, where they turned on to Higway 31 to make the circle back to the civic complex. 

After the Gomez leg of the run, Copus and a few officers from surrounding law enforcement offices headed to Calera Police Department. 

The Calera Police Department laced up their shoes in memory of Wendi Ray who was a Special Olympics athlete for more than 20 years. 

Ray served as a public speaker and ambassador on behalf of the Special Olympics. She also had the opportunity to carry the torch into the games in Montgomery. 

The department took to social media after the run to thank Ray’s parents for allowing them to run in her honor while her brother, Daryl Ray, carried the torch.

Chief of Police David Hyche spoke about what the run meant to him as an officer and as the father of a special needs child. 

“I think it’s important to raise awareness to the things that people with special needs can do,” Hyche said. “A lot of the time we think about the things they can’t do, but I don’t think we should limit that. They can decide that for themselves. My daughter is blind and she likes movies. If you would have asked me, before we had her, if a blind person could go to the movies, I would’ve said no. There’s no limit to what they can do, they decide those things themselves.” 

Copus and Hyche lit the torch together while thanking the participating officers for being out with them to support ALETR. 

Hyche led the pack of officers down 10th Street, where they made their way around Calera Elementary School to go back to the police department. 

Each officer in all participating departments held smiles on their faces while running for ALETR. 

Those interested in learning more about ALETR may visit or visit its Facebook page.