(OPP photo)

Local Police To Raise Up ‘Flame Of Hope’ For Special Olympics

Local police officers are lacing up their running shoes to help make a difference for Special Olympics athletes.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Ontario is set to take place on Saturday at Kinston Park in Chatham.

Chatham-Kent Police Service Constable Jason Herder said the main objective of the Torch Run is to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics Ontario, but it’s also a way for members of law enforcement to partner with the community for a good cause.

“Last year I was able to participate in my first [Torch Run]Final Leg for the Summer Games, so I was able to actually see the opening ceremony, the hard work that we put in and the fundraising and awareness that goes into these games,” he said. “The reward of that energizes and gets you motivated to keep going and make the next event bigger.”

This Torch Run marks the fifth year that Herder has participated and his third as the event’s local organizer. He said seeing the actual Summer Games up close makes every year worthwhile.

“When you do the Final Leg before the games start, you finish off in the arena that’s hosting all of the athletes. You finish off coming in with the torch and you high five all the athletes that are participating in the games,” he said. “Hands down, that was my best experience so far being involved with Special Olympics.”

Herder said he’s looking forward to the Winter Games in 2019 where he will get the chance to hand out medals to the athletes.

Members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario SPCA, as well as students from Border Security/Police Foundations program at St. Clair College, will take part in the event locally on Saturday.

The 5 km walk/run begins at 10am with law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes running side-by-side, carrying the event torch, known as the “Flame of Hope”. Herder said the event is family-friendly and is open to all members of the public.

There is a $20 registration fee to participate and all funds raised will directly benefit Special Olympics Ontario programs. Coffee and lunch are also being provided by Tim Hortons and Subway restaurants. Water has also been donated by No Frills.

Anyone who would like to register prior to the event can do so online by clicking here.