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Gresham Police join Special Olympics torch run

Friday's event will draw 300 officers, athletes and families

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Smiling runners participate in the Torch Run.Across the state, law enforcement agencies are joining together in support of the participants of Special Olympics Oregon as Guardians of the Flame.

The 30th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run will have local law enforcement officers, including representatives of the Gresham Police Department, join athletes to carry the “Flame of Hope” across Oregon ahead of the 2016 Summer State Games.

The first leg will be at 10 a.m., Friday, July 8, beginning at Lake Oswego High School and concluding with a barbeque at the finish line at Cook Park in Tigard.

The event expects to have 300 participants walking and running the six-mile course. Four members of the Gresham Department are attending.

Agencies with members running during this stage include Multnomah County, Washington County and Clackamas County sheriffs offices, Portland, Milwaukie and Gresham police departments, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, the FBI and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Throughout the week there will be six separate legs of the Torch Run, culminating in the lighting of the Special Olympics Oregon cauldron at the Summer State Games on Saturday, July 9, in Newberg.

This event is the largest grassroots fundraising activity for Special Olympics Oregon, raising over $5.4 million dollars in its 30-year history.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in Wichita, Kan., in 1981 when Police Chief Richard LaMunyon recognized a need to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics. He established the event as a way to involve local law enforcement with the Special Olympics and community by running the torch across the state before converging at the Summer Games.

Since those early days, the torch run has become a global event, with all 50 states and 30 countries participating.

Local law enforcement supports the Special Olympics throughout the year. They attend competitions, participate in medal ceremonies and raise funds through events.

Special Olympics Oregon serves over 13,000 participants with intellectual disabilities — the largest disability population in the state — year-round through signature sports programs. The opportunity allows athletes to gain self-confidence, social competency and other life skills.