JSO hosts Torch Run for Special Olympics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 20 law enforcement agencies hit the streets to support the Special Olympics.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office hosted the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run Wednesday morning.

There was a 1-mile and a 3-mile run through the streets of downtown Jacksonville. It started at JSO and ended at the Jacksonville Landing. It's something officers from around the state have been doing for 31 years.

"This is really an honor for us these young folk are going to be competing this weekend in various athletic events here locally," said Michelle Cook, of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Jacksonville police officers and other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will run with special athletes Wednesday, bringing the "flame of hope" to the opening ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions.

"That's actually one of the neatest parts about the torch run is that we actually do run it with members, participants in the Special Olympics and it's really kind of a touching thing the officers get to share with those folks," said JSO spokesman Shannon Hartley.

This is an event that's been happening for three decades now. Officers from around Florida, running to fundraise for the Special Olympics program. In 2013, JSO raised more than $8,000 in sponsorships from the Greater Jacksonville Youth Athletic Council, Pop Warner Football Conference and through T-shirt and ball cap sales. This year it has raised about $6,000.

"To support and help these children and the adults in the community for Special Olympics is just an amazing thing," said Blaze Angiuli, whose son has Down syndrome.

"I think it's an extension of an officers' passion. You know the officers are passionate about the community and contributing and benefiting," Hartley said.

In the days leading up to the Special Olympics, the torch will travel more than 1,500 miles through the state. It was brought to Jacksonville from Nassau County Tuesday. The next stop on the relay is St. Johns County.

"It's capturing the Olympic spirit obviously. It's something we want to keep burning. We want to keep it alive and we want to keep passing it on through the entire state and through the entire country," Hartley said.

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