The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is the movement's largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle, At its most basic level the Torch Run is an actual running event, in which officers and athletes run the Flame of Hope™ to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions and State and National Games. 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, raising more than $51 Million USD for local Special Olympics programs in 2014 and over $560 Million since its inception in 1981.
The man behind the first Torch Run in 1981 was Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon. He conceived the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel in the community and to support Special Olympics. The Torch Run was quickly adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) now recognized as the founding law enforcement organization for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics.
Today, the Torch Run is more than just a run and encompasses a variety of fundraising vehicles such as T-shirt and merchandise sales, special events to include polar bear plunges, tip-a-cop and building sits and a host of other events that have local, state and national appeal. The Law Enforcement Torch Run transforms communities by inspiring people to open their minds, to accept and include people with intellectual disabilities, celebrating differences among all people … recognizing and respecting the similarities we all share. For athletes and officers alike, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is a story of success, love, respect and commitment between law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes.