Pictured are some of the Hibbing/Chisholm Rangers Special Olympics athletes.

HIBBING — The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which is sponsored by local area law enforcement agencies and a fire department, will be conducted for the second year in a row to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota athletes.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, Hibbing Police Department, Hibbing Fire Department, Virginia Police Department and local area Special Olympics athletes from the Roadrunners and the Hibbing-Chisholm Rangers will be participating in the event. According to a news release from Deputy Adam Kleffman of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, the fund raiser is conducted to assist area Special Olympics athletes in their local games participation, USA games and the World Games.

“All of the money Law Enforcement in MN raises goes directly to helping our local athletes with the expenses of uniforms, food, equipment, training, travel, etc.,” Kleffman said. “The funds raised also help go towards health screenings such as eye exams, dental check-ups, and eyewear for our athletes.”

The Torch Run, a run/jog/walk event, will be conducted on Tuesday, June 18, starting at 11 a.m. at the corner of First Avenue and Howard Street in Hibbing, and it will end at the Hibbing Police Department/Sheriff’s Office. Refreshments will be provided following the event.

To participate, contact Investigator Rachael Shiek at the Hibbing Police Department at 218-262-0288.

If anyone would like to be a sponsor instead of an active participant in this event, a hat or T-shirt can be purchased for $20 each.

A run will then follow in Virginia starting at 12:30 p.m. at the south end of Silver Lake at Field of Dreams Park adjacent to Children’s Memorial Park (Ninth Avenue South/Third Street West) and will end in the Silver Lake public parking area just north of West Chestnut Street, on Ninth Street South.

Shiek, an investigator for the Hibbing Police Department, said the event is not only to give athletes verbal support, but the funding allows many of the athletes to participate in events.

“It helps for their training, it helps for any kind of travel expenses, and in many ways it helps support them in being able to participate in the Special Olympics,” said Shiek. “This year we have six probation officers and six police officers who will be involved. There also will be some firefighters from Hibbing and Chisholm who will be involved.”

According to Kleffman, LETR was started in 1981, in Wichita, Kan., and is the largest grass-roots fund-raising movement for the Special Olympics. It is run by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, correction officers, support staff, police volunteers and other law enforcement professionals from around the world. Close to 97,000 police professionals in more than 45 countries participate in this worldwide effort to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics.

Participants in the LETR help spread the word about the benefits of Special Olympics and how the program helps define the brave participants of these programs as athletes and not define them by their disabilities. Since its inception in 1981, LETR has raised $619,187,626.

According to the literature, the event is similar to the Olympic Torch Run and the LETR consists of scheduled relay events, usually held in conjunction and coordination with Special Olympics functions. While carrying the flame, officers and athletes are referred to as “Guardians of the Flame.”

In the broader sense, the LETR is used to define all of the special events and fund-raising activities that law enforcement conducts to contribute to this campaign. This includes but is not limited to tip-a-cop events like car washes, polar plunges, roof sits, motorcycle runs, online fund raising, T-shirt and hat sales, media events and more.

Kleffman said a Special Olympics World Games is held every two years which brings about a special torch run called the Final Leg Run during which law enforcement, together with Special Olympic athletes, run the Flame of Hope throughout the host country for the games, spreading awareness for Special Olympics. This culminates with the lighting of the cauldron for the Flame of Hope at the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games.

“The athletes are grateful, they are excited, they are just a wonderful group of kids,” said Shiek.


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