CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The annual state Special Olympics games are not happening this year because of the coronavirus, but that’s not stopping some local law enforcement officers from helping keep one of the event’s traditions alive.
Each year, local law enforcement officers run the ceremonial torch across the state to kick off the games.
Even with the event canceled, several officers still completed part of the run in Christiansburg on Tuesday. The officers all had slightly different reasons for doing so, but the common theme is that they want to raise awareness, and ultimately money, for Special Olympics.
“It’s just to spread the awareness of inclusion for all people," said Moe McClanahan, Christiansburg Police Department investigator.
This year’s run is virtual, meaning people are encouraged to run on their own or in small groups.
On Tuesday, two Christiansburg police investigators, a DMV employee and a Special Olympics athlete ran about two miles from Horne Funeral Home in Christiansburg to the Hardee’s downtown.
“I run because it’s healthy; it’s fun," said Special Olympics athlete Erica Bookout.
The investigator and DMV employee are running two miles a day for five days. Tuesday was day two.
“It’s just been a goal of our police department to always support athletes and Special Olympics,” said Nathan Delp, Christiansburg Police Department investigator.
An officer and a Special Olympics representative followed along on bikes as the group ran their miles.
“I run for my athletes. My passion is for them," said DMV employee Stephanie Gallemore.
The goal of this year’s virtual run is for everyone participating to collectively run 1,900 miles, the distance of the traditional torch run, between June 8 and June 12.
On Tuesday afternoon, participants had already run about 1,000 miles.
Click here if you would like to participate or donate.