By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
On June 15, local police departments, including Carlinville, Gillespie and Virden, participated in the single largest year-round fundraising movement that benefits Special Olympic athletes.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which originated in 1981, has two goals: raising money and raising awareness.
The creator, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, presented the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 1983.
The LETR includes an annual intrastate relay that is conducted by officers representing every branch of law enforcement within the state. Approximately 3,000 officers carry the ‘Flame of Hope’ nearly 1,500 miles, running through thousands of Illinois communities via 23 different legs to its final destination – the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games in Normal, according to an article on the Special Olympics Illinois website.
The run also hosts a variety of annual fundraising events that include Polar Plunges, Dunkin’ Coffee for Champions, Tip-A-Cop events, Truck Convoys and Plane Pull.
Law enforcement members and Special Olympic athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into opening ceremonies of local competitions nationwide, as well as Special Olympics Games at the state, provincial, national, regional and world level.
Over 97,000 law enforcement members annually carry the “Flame of Hope,” which symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.
LETR has historically raised over $600 million for Special Olympic programs.
For more information, visit www.letr.org. To stay up to date on local events and activities, follow the Illinois Torch Run on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.