Alabama officers make final stretch of Torch Run today

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, May 17, 2018

Police from across the state have been carrying the “Flame of Hope” from Huntsville to Birmingham to the Capitol and they’ll wrap up their run this afternoon right here in Troy.

The police run the torch every year ahead of the Special Olympics State Games to raise awareness.

“This is law enforcement’s cause,” said Debbie Sumrall, torch run coordinator. “We are guardians of the flame; we carry the torch to local games, state games, national games and international games.”

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The annual run is the Special Olympics largest grassroots fundraiser, Sumrall said, bringing in $50 million worldwide last year with $108,000 of that being brought in by the Alabama Law Enforcement Torch Run team.

The torch run itself is more about raising awareness for people facing disabilities though, Sumrall said.

“We have a lot of police cars and officers, so we make a lot of noise,” Sumrall said.

Not only do the officers want to bring awareness among the public, they also want the families of people with disabilities that may not know about the Special Olympics.

“We want them to realize they can participate for free and join these inclusive sports,” Sumrall said. “Anyone can participate.”

The officers will arrive at the Troy Police Department with torch in hand this afternoon at 2 p.m. and will be ready to run their last leg all the way to Trojan Arena after a short ceremony.

The torch run will officially end later tonight during the opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. when Sgt. Shelby O’Connor and the Special Olympics athlete of the year join hands in a final lap around the arena before lighting the ceremonial torch.

The lighting of the torch will declare the state games officially open, with the entirety of the sports and competitions taking place Saturday. Some games may be moved from their planned locations based on weather, so stay alert for further updates.