Special Olympics athletes, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and other South Florida law enforcement officers across the region spent Wednesday morning running alongside the beach for a cause.
The 41st Annual Broward Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money and awareness for Special Olympics Florida, began at Fort Lauderdale Beach and span ten miles to end at Pompano Beach.
The run drew crowds of supporters, who spoke to NBC 6.
“I’m here supporting my husband of the Wilton Manors Police Department as they run,” said Kendra Littleton, while holding a sign cheering on participants.
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The event began with the lighting of the flame by Cooper City resident and Special Olympics athlete Fernando Nunez. The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games gold medal recipient carried the Olympic torch at the beginning and end of the run.
Nunez and other Special Olympics athletes were surrounded by various members of local law enforcement departments and the community to finish the ten mile trek.
However, the run wasn’t as difficult as it sounds because it was about representing and finishing any way you can.
“Pretty much I’m walking,” said Virginia Hernandez, representing the Broward Sheriff’s Office. “Sprinting a little bit just to get there, but I’m not the only one.”
Some groups broke the run down in sections, and had small groups take up each leg.
“They have different stages where you can stop off if you can’t make the full run,” said Constance Stanley, the Chief for the Lauderhill Police Department. “Again, it’s enjoyable for a great cause and we’re happy to be here.”
The event allows law enforcement officers and staff a chance to bond with Special Olympian athletes and help raise awareness and support for Special Olympics Florida’s mission: to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for those with intellectual disabilities.
“To raise awareness for Special Olympics Florida, that work with individuals with special needs,” said Det. Joseph Nistor of the Lauderhill Police Department. “We’re really trying to showcase that with this run, so other people members of the public can be aware of Special Olympics Florida.”
Florida Special Olympics Summer Games start May 20 in Orlando. You can learn more by clicking on this link.