Leon County hosts 40th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run

Something Good - Special Olympics Torch Run
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 7:36 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 8:06 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Law enforcement officers throughout Leon County joined forces for the state-wide Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits athletes of the Special Olympics.

The 40th annual run brought in chiefs, officers, sheriffs, and agents from 300 different agencies across the state to show support for an organization that serves more than 4.7 million special needs kids around the world.

More than 400 officers from agencies like the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission started their nearly 2.5-mile run at the Publix on Monroe Street and ended at the Old Capitol Courtyard to raise awareness for the cause.

“Thank you for supporting athletes like me,” said Special Olympic athlete Ashley Harrell.

Harrell is a long-time Special Olympic athlete. She has competed in a number of sports like tennis, cheer, golf and gymnastics.

“Special Olympics is very special to me because I’ve made many memories that will last forever, and some of those memories include when I received Inspirational Athlete and Athlete of the Year in 2016,” Harrell said.

She has a message about what the Special Olympic Games have done for her over the years.

“I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to,” Harrell said. “Special Olympics is a place where I can be my silly self and not worry about being bullied.”

Harrell was just one of many speakers at the 40th annual torch run sharing what all is made possible through funds raised by the relay.

Law enforcement officials look forward to the event every year.

“Our goal is to protect and serve, and we like to protect and serve our Olympians,” said Dan Weis, the director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. “We hold these Olympic games so they can be a part of everybody else. They’re no different than our Olympic athletes at a national level.”

Harrell shared how thankful she is for every person that participates in the fundraisers that benefit the Special Olympics.

“It helps brings communities together and increases awareness for Special Olympics and recognizes the hard work law enforcement does every day. Without the torch run and all the other fundraising events they do, Special Olympics would not be what it is today,” Harrell said.

The torch is passed throughout 67 counties in Florida and will be passed off the Calhoun County for its torch run on Monday, April 10.