More than 250 law enforcement officers across West Virginia are hitting the road this week, not to issue tickets, but to take part in the Torch Run to raise money and awareness for the 2004 Special Olympic West Virginia Summer Games.
The Flame of Hope kicks off its statewide trek today (June 1) in Huntington. At 9 a.m. Friday, June 4, officers will run the torch from the Sabraton Hardees, through Morgantown, arriving at the West Virginia University Coliseum around noon.
At 8 p.m. that evening, Parkersburg police officer Scott Carpenter and Marion County Special Olympic athlete Jeramie Satterfield, 17, will carry the torch into the Coliseum during opening ceremonies, signifying the official start of the Summer Games.
The flame will then burn continuously until the closing ceremonies at 11:45 a.m. Sunday, June 6, at the Mountaineer Track.
During the games, Satterfield will participate in the 50-meter race walk, standing long jump and softball throw.
Its an honor to run with these athletes,said Carpenter, whos been involved in five Special Olympics.They dont get a lot of notoriety throughout the year, and this is their turn to shine.
He added,I just want to encourage people to be involved, not just during these events. It takes a lot of money to get these kids to the Special Olympics.
One of the ways Carpenter and other police officers have been able to send local athletes to Morgantown is by soliciting individual and corporate donations for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a one-week relay to pass the Flame of Hope across the state.
Organizers pledged $15,000 for this years Summer Games, said John Corbett, chief executive officer for Special Olympics West Virginia.
The first two legs of this years relay travel from Huntington to Hurricane and St. Albans to Charleston today (June 1).
Other runs include: Charleston, Ripley and Parkersburg Wednesday, June 2; Beckley, Oak Hill, Fayetteville, Summersville and Clarksburg Thursday, June 3; and Morgantown Friday June 4.
The Torch Run for Special Olympics is the movements largest grassroots fund-raiser and public awareness vehicle. In 2003, more than 85,000 law enforcement officers around the world carried the Flame of Hope, collecting more than $19 million.
At the state level, the Torch Run initiative also includes activities held throughout the year. These range from T-Shirt sales to golf tournaments.