Local law enforcement carried the “Torch of Hope” Wednesday morning on an approximately 35-mile trek from Fredericktown to the St. Francois/Jefferson County line to show support for Special Olympics athletes.

Since 1995 local law enforcement has taken part in the Annual Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run. Desloge Police Chief James Bullock said there were 36 officials who participated in the event this year.

“We had people from the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, Desloge, Bismarck and Farmington Police Departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Farmington and Bonne Terre Correctional Centers and District 12 FCSC St. Francois County Probation and Parole,” said Chief Bullock. “MoDOT assisted us again this year and they really make a huge difference for us.”

Chief Bullock said the driving public was very cooperative and stayed in the far lane for the most part and MoDOT played a big part in that with their arrow sign on the back of their truck.

“We had multiple vehicles and two of the sheriff’s vans out there with us,” said Bullock. “They would run a little while, then they would get back in the van and someone else would get out. They would run for whatever they felt comfortable with and then they would get back in the van. That’s the way we have always done it and it seems to work well.”

St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock said last year they had bad storms and rain, but this year the skies were blue and the sun was shining.

 “It really made for a good run this morning,” said Sheriff Bullock. “This is the third year MoDOT has helped us out with keeping traffic off the runners. We really appreciate them doing that. They volunteered the first year and every year since we just call them and tell them when we are doing this. They have showed up to help and we really appreciate that. It helps keep the runners safe while we are running.”

Sheriff Bullock said he wanted to thank Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson for coming out and driving one of the sheriff’s department vans.

“This is the third or fourth year he has come out to help us by driving the van, hauling the water and helping the runners,” said Sheriff Bullock. “I brought up the tail end and had a banner hanging on the back of my truck, so the people know what’s going on.”

The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is to increase awareness and raise funds for the Special Olympics movement. Each year, the torch run initiative grows bigger and better.

Annually, more than 85,000 dedicated, compassionate and volunteer law enforcement officers participate in the torch run throughout 46 nations, 12 Canadian provinces and 50 US states. They raised more than $51 million for local Special Olympics programs in 2014 and more than $560 million since its inception in 1981.

The mission of the torch run is to raise both dollars and awareness for Special Olympics. Nearly 200 agencies and 6,500 officers work year-round in Missouri to accomplish this goal. All funds raised go toward supporting Special Olympics Missouri’s year-round sports training and athletic competition program for more than 17,000 athletes across the state.

– via Renee Bronaugh – Daily Journal