Local law enforcement officers will carry the Special Olympics Indiana "Flame of Hope" as a part the Putnam County portion of the 2009 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Indiana on Friday, June 5 beginning at 1 p.m. to raise funds and awareness for the 243 Special Olympics athletes from Putnam County.
The 2.5-mile run will begin at the intersection of Calbert Way and Indianapolis Road and will continue westbound across the city. The route will pass the Putnam County Courthouse and finish at the Greencastle Police Department on North Jackson Street at approximately 1:40 p.m.
"We are very pleased to be working with the Greencastle law enforcement community again this year to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Indiana--Putnam County," said Scott Furnish, special events manager and Law Enforcement Torch Run liaison for Special Olympics Indiana. "The Greencastle portion of the 2008 Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg was what first sparked the idea of having community torch run events to support the local Special Olympics Indiana County Program. As we recognize our 40th anniversary this year, this is a perfect way for communities around the state to help us celebrate that Special Olympics Indiana is 40 years young."
The Greencastle chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police will be covering the $25 entry fee for all active members of the organization participating in the run.
Since 1987, law enforcement officers from around Indiana have been carrying the torch to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics athletes as part of the Indiana Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Previously, an annual relay run carried the "Flame of Hope" from the Final Leg Kick-off Ceremony at Victory Field in Indianapolis along U.S. Route 40 to the campus of Indiana State University in Terre Haute for the annual Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games.
However, this year, throughout the weeks leading up to Summer Games, law enforcement officers will carry the torch around the state as part of 40 celebratory events that will countdown to the 40th Annual Summer Games. The Putnam County Torch Run will be the one of more than 14 county torch runs held in Special Olympics Indiana communities throughout the state.
Also on June 5, officers and Special Olympics athletes will gather at Victory Field in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Indians. Officers will light a cauldron with the "Flame of Hope" and the first events of the 2009 Games will take place, in honor of the inaugural Special Olympics Indiana Games at Bush Stadium on June 5, 1969. Later in the day, officers will run the torch to the campus of Indiana State University, marking the official start of the games.
Last year, 262 officers participated in the Final Leg portion of the Torch Run program throughout the state of Indiana, which also serves as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Indiana. Lieutenant Mike Beck of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and chair of the Indiana Law Enforcement Torch Run program hopes to raise at least $20,000 this year with a number of local torch runs.
"While the Law Enforcement Torch Run program is so much more than a run, this event is really the driving force behind the law enforcement community's support of Special Olympics Indiana," said Beck. "We are very pleased to have this many communities willing to host a local run to help raise awareness for Special Olympics and fund programs like the annual State Games in Terre Haute."
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the world's largest grassroots fundraising vehicle for Special Olympics. Throughout the year, law enforcement officers participate in fundraising activities of various kinds to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics. In Indiana, the Law Enforcement Torch Run involves hundreds of police officers in fundraising and volunteer activities year-round.
In 2009, Special Olympics Indiana is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. For the past four decades, Special Olympics Indiana, a not-for-profit organization, has been providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. From a gathering of a few dozen individuals in 1969, the program has grown to reach nearly 10,000 athletes and 7,000 volunteers statewide. The organization receives no federal or state-appropriated funds, is not a United Way agency and relies entirely on corporate, civic and individual donations. For more information about Special Olympics Indiana and its 40th Anniversary celebrations, call (317) 328-2000 or visit www.soindiana.org