June 17, 2014

Law Enforcement Torch Run kicks off in Merced County

Police officers undertake benefit run for Special Olympics

More than 50 area police officers are scheduled to take part in a run today from the UC Merced campus to Livingston, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Merced County starts at 7 a.m. and is expected to conclude about 11 a.m. at the Livingston Police Department.

More than 85,000law enforcement officers participate in the torch run in 35 nations, 12 Canadian provinces and 50 U.S. states, raising more than $46 million for local Special Olympics programs, according to the LETR web site.

Sgt. Jeff Godfrey of the UC Merced Police Department said organizers have commitments this year from runners representing UC Merced, Merced Police Department, Merced County Sheriff’s Department, probation, and the Atwater and Livingston police departments. There will be six legs to the run.

Although law enforcement officers are the only runners allowed to carry the torch, anyone can come out and show support by running or cheering encouragement. This is the third year the run has been held in Merced, according to Godfrey.

Rita Spaur, UC Merced police chief, said her department is honored to continue the tradition of the run, calling it a great way for officers to be a part of community activities and benefit the Special Olympics.

“We learn a lot from these Olympians,” Spaur said.

Godfrey and Spaur said Special Olympics participants will take part in Torch Run events. Godfrey said he has been working with representatives from all the law enforcement agencies in the county to build a foundation of support for this event.

The entire course is 16 miles and should take about four hours to complete. The run will conclude with a barbecue for runners and Torch Run volunteers.


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