Special Olympics, torch run head to Troy

Published 11:17 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday was a day of celebration as the Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run and the Opening Ceremony for the Alabama Special Olympic Games took place.

The ALETR, which took place around 2 p.m. featured law enforcement men and women running with the “Flame of Hope.”

The ALETR has raised an estimated $125,000 toward this year’s Special Olympic Games.

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It has also been reported that this year’s torch run final leg was one of the largest in the ALETR history.

After starting at the First Baptist Church in downtown Troy, the officers ran around the Troy Square and made a brief stop at the police department to hear remarks from Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

Lunsford said he was pleased that the city was able to bring the Special Olympic Games back to Troy.

Lunsford also said that though he understands that the Alabama Special Olympic Games is of a significant economic impact to the city, the games mean much more than that.

“It does mean a lot to us economically. It’s a great economic benefit. You bring a lot of people in for two or three days. But it means a heck of a lot more to us just to be a part of something as big as the state Special Olympics,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said he enjoys watching the athletes get out and compete, as well as the enthusiasm they show.

“It makes me feel good to take my grandkids and watch some of the competitions. Watching the swimming competition last year was my favorite,” Lunsford said.

“It’s really important to the city that we keep this here in Troy, and that we keep doing things to help serve,” he added.

The Opening Ceremony for the Alabama Special Olympic Games started things off with a bang as fireworks and colorful shirts accompanied more than 1200 athletes from 31 areas.

Sporting a Western theme, the athletes were given bandanas as they entered Troy University’s Movie Gallery Stadium Friday evening.

The Parade of Athletes welcomed the Special Olympic participants and allowed them to represent the counties they were from, while the Sound of the South Marching Band played them in.

Troy University’s mascot, T-Roy, also joined the festivities.

Delegation from Jefferson County led the line, followed by delegation from Limestone, Morgan, Coffee, Dale, Baldwin, St. Clair, Shelby, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Autauga, Marshall, Lauderdale, Lee, Geneva, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Pike, Calhoun, Etowah, Talladega, and Houston County.

Pike County is the hosting delegation and has 33 representatives competing in the state games.

This is the second year Pike County has competed.

Meredith Welch is Co-Head of Delegation for Team Pike County.

“I hope everyone can compete safely, and be proud of their accomplishments,” Welch said.

Herb Reeves, dean of student services and Co-Chair for the games, had a large part in organizing the ceremony.

“All the logistics, me and my staff handle. We have a large number of volunteer coordinators,” Reeves said.

According to Reeves, the events surrounding the games would not be possible without the help of so many volunteers.

“We couldn’t do it without the people who volunteer. It’s a huge, huge group of people we have to have. We had plenty of volunteers. I would say tonight we had 100 plus volunteers,” Reeves said.

According to Reeves, it takes about 500-600 volunteers for the entire Special Olympic Games.

“We can always use volunteers,” he said. “This year we’ve had more volunteers and more law enforcement people here than we’ve ever had.”