Toledo Deputy Chief George Kral, center, carries the torch as he leads officers and Special Olympians from the downtown Safety Building to Fifth Third Field. It’s part of a week-long run in which police pass off the ‘Flame of Hope’ torch from one jurisdiction to the next, ending in Columbus.
Officers from the Toledo Police Department were all fired up on Thursday as they ran down North Huron Street carrying the ceremonial torch alongside Special Olympics athletes in the annual law enforcement torch run.
The run of about a mile from the Toledo Police Safety Building to Fifth Third Field was just the first leg of a week-long run in which police pass off the “Flame of Hope” torch from one jurisdiction to the next. The run’s final leg will culminate at the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Special Olympics State Summer Games held at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
PHOTO GALLERY: Flame of Hope torch run
Dan Van Vorhis, coordinator of the northwest Ohio route, said “It’s a great opportunity for law enforcement and the community to come together to raise awareness for the Special Olympics.”
Prior to the run, participants collect contributions and are often sponsored by service groups and businesses to raise money, according to the Special Olympics Ohio site. Last year’s event raised about $640,000, Mr. Van Vorhis said.
Steve Hanf of Toledo, with the Special Olympics, holds the torch aloft before the Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field. He carried the torch into the stadium.
Deputy Chief George Kral said that many department officers have special-needs children and that participating is a great way to show support. Participating in the run for a third year, he was accompanied by officers Bill Cashem, Chris Holland, Sandy Ceglarek, Bryan Hollingsworth, and Chip Holland.
Thursday’s first leg culminated with officers and Special Olympics athletes running onto the Mud Hens’ field. The stadium crowd cheered them on as they made their way to home plate.
Steve Hanf, a Special Olympics athlete from the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, carried the torch onto the field. He will compete in the mini-javelin event and the 50-meter dash at the state summer games. He said he’s practiced at the University of Toledo to prepare.
The officers soon left the stadium to move on to the Toledo Police Museum, where the second leg of the run began at 12:30 p.m. Toledo participants then ran to the Sylvania Police Department and passed the torch on to eagerly waiting officers there for the next leg of the run.
Back at the stadium, Sgt. Joe Heffernan said the police had organized a drug-awareness and prevention program before the noon Mud Hens game. Many children went from the program to the game using tickets donated by the Law Enforcement Trust Fund.
Thomas Laube, a 13-year-old volunteer from the Lucas County Special Olympics program, threw out the first pitch.
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