Special Olympian Jeff Dunn loves to run. If you need proof, hes got a treasure trove of shiny medals, pictures and memorabilia to show you.
His favorite activity, though, is the traditional Victory Dance Saturday night. Thats where he really shines.
Whether burning up the track or the dance floor, the 39-year-old Special Olympianwho competes in the shotput, 100-meter dash and 100-meter walkalways gives it his all.
Born in Beaver, Pa., Dunn has been participating in the Special Olympics since he was five or six years old.
It is a big honor running and walking and shotput and all that,he said.
He likes it. Hes into it,said Jim, Dunns brother and one of his biggest supporters.His favorite part is the dance at the Towers (WVU residence halls)and the opening ceremonies. The kids all love them, too. Its quite touching.
This year, Dunn has the honor of carrying theFlame of Hopeinto opening ceremonies at 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at the WVU Coliseum to the fanfare of hundreds of fellow athletes, volunteers and supporters.
Dunn will be accompanied by John Frazier, a Charleston police officer, and the two will ignite the cauldron that officially opens the three-day athletic event. The flame will then burn continuously until the Games wrap up Sunday, June 5.
Lighting the cauldron is a time-honored tradition of the Special Olympics West Virginia Summer Games. It is not only a salute to the athletes who compete, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officer.
When the light is extinguished, it signifies the closing of the games and the end of a long journey that began in Huntington.
Leading up to the games, some 200 law enforcement officersrepresenting various police departments; the FBI ; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and other agencieswill carry the torch across the state to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics West Virginia.
The Torch Run kicks off Tuesday, May 31, with officers sprinting from Huntington to Charleston. Other legs of the statewide relay include Charleston to Ripley to Parkersburg, Wednesday, June 1; Beckley to Oak Hill to Fayetteville, Wednesday, June 1; and the Clarksburg area, Thursday, June 2.
The torch leaves the Sabraton Hardees at 10 a.m. Friday, June 3, and is expected to arrive between 11 a.m. and noon at the WVU Coliseum, its final destination.
Besides helping to carry the torch, Frazier will participate in the run.
I was a runner when I came on the department,said Frazier, a West Virginia native, 19-year veteran of the Charleston Police Department and three-time director of the state Torch Run.
I got to see what the Torch Run was all about and stayed on because its a good feeling to help out in this way,he added.Officers are all on the same page when it comes to giving back to the community.
This will be his third time helping to light the cauldron.
The good part is you get that one-on-one association with the athlete,he said.Theyre always a nervous wreck so we try to calm each other down.
Walking in with the torch is like being the star of the show, Frazier explained.
You can feel the joy thats about to begin,he said.It makes me feel good. Its got to be how athletes feel.
Law Enforcement Torch Runs are held across the country. The one in West Virginia has raised about $20,000 this year, according to John Corbett, Special Olympics West Virginia CEO , and additional fund-raising activities should push the total to $25,000.
In 2004, more than 85,000 officers carried theFlame of Hopeacross 35 nations, raising more than $20 million for the Special Olympics.