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May 22, 2017Torch Run 2009

Torch Run History

Torch Run Turns 31

Each year the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics gets bigger and better.

In January 2013, an international team of 133 members which includes 95 Law Enforcement Officer runners, 10 Special Olympics athletes, and support personnel, will serve as Guardians of the Flame® as they run the Flame of Hope™ throughout Korea. This will be a prelude to the Special Olympics World Winter Games which will take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, January 29 to February 5, 2013. Final Leg runners are selected from all around the world to represent their Torch Run and Special Olympics Programs.

In 2011, the Law Enforcement Torch Runs raised $42.6 million, making it the movement’s largest grass-roots fundraiser and public relations vehicle. Since its inception, Torch Run has grown powerfully, raising over $410 million for Special Olympics.

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-one 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.