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Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics

Photo by Shari Harris
South Central Correctional Center was responsible for the Texas County leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Fourteen participants met in front of Route 63 Liquor and received a police escort as they ran and/or walked to Rinne’s Fast and Friendly. Runners moved on to Houston and Cabool for their legs of the run before they returned to Licking for lunch at the Old City Park.
(Jefferson City) The Statewide Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO), founded by the Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA) 32 years ago, began on May 18, and was scheduled to continue through Friday, May 31.
Law Enforcement officers from 9 regions around the state were running the torch to raise awareness for Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) and the 2019 State Summer Games. The State Summer Games were scheduled to be held in Springfield on May 31 – June 2. The culmination of the Torch Run - the lighting of the Flame of Hope – was to take place during the Opening Ceremony, May 31 at Hammons Student Center.
The torch run is an annual event. The guiding purpose of the event is to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Missouri. Special Olympics is law enforcement’s charity of choice, not only in Missouri, but worldwide. More than 2,300 runners from 119 agencies from across the state were scheduled to participate in the 2019 Torch Run, running 37 different routes and covering more than 1,000 miles across Missouri.
Missouri Law Enforcement Agencies are attempting to raise more than $2 million this year through various fundraising initiatives including the Polar Plunge®, selling Torch Run T-shirts and organizing special events such as the World’s Largest Truck Convoy®, Over the Edge® and Tip-A-Cop® events. “They are passionate about raising money and awareness for SOMO. Law enforcement has been the largest supporter of the Special Olympics movement worldwide; we are forever grateful,” says Susan Stegeman, SOMO President & CEO.
In 2018, Missouri's Torch Run was awarded the ranking of number nine in the world based on gross dollars raised.
The 2019 Torch Run began May 18 at 8 a.m. in Region 6, going from Walmart in St. Robert to Gerlach Field at Ft. Leonard Wood. Other torch runs across the state were scheduled throughout the two weeks leading up to the 2019 State Summer Games.
Region 7 included Texas County. Local routes started in Licking at MO. 32/U.S. 63 Jct. to Rinne’s Fast & Friendly on Hwy. 137. From there, the route continued from north Houston city limits on U.S. 63 to south Houston city limits and finally from north Cabool city limits on U.S. 63 to Main St. to Hwy. 181 to Business 60.
On Friday, May 24, after the Texas County leg of the Torch Run was complete, SOMO issued a press release stating the following:
“We have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2019 State Summer Games, scheduled to be held May 31-June 2 in Springfield.
“’We are heartbroken that we have to cancel State Summer Games,’ said Susan Stegeman, SOMO president and CEO. ‘The athletes deserve better, but based on the severe tornado damage to SOMO headquarters, the extreme flooding throughout the state and a grim 10-day forecast, we had to make this call.’
“SOMO Board Chairman Gary Wilbers said, ‘Our staff’s top priority is always the athletes. They would move mountains to make sure the athletes have quality competition. As the chair of the SOMO Board of Directors, I must look out for the wellbeing of our organization.’
“’As a board, we cannot in good conscience expect our team to execute these games after suffering the devastation of losing the campus that they, and so many of you, have worked so hard to make a home for our athletes. Their physical, emotional and mental health must be the top priority at this time as we rebuild the Training for Life Campus.’
“Individuals and businesses interested in donating to the rebuild efforts can text SOMOREBUILD to 71777. Information regarding any future programming events is forthcoming. Follow us on all of our social media accounts to stay up to date with the latest information on the rebuild.
“’We have an incredible staff and an army of volunteers helping us recover. We will rebuild and SOMO will be stronger than ever,’ Stegeman said.”


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