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Preparing for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run

SOMT Law Enforcement Torch Run
Posted at 11:27 AM, Mar 23, 2024

HELENA — Law enforcement officers from across the state are meeting in Helena this weekend to prepare for the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.

“They are the most amazing individuals I've ever met. And their stories are so inspiring and it just brings that happiness and that goodness into your heart that makes the job that much more fun to do,” says Trooper with the Montana Highway Patrol, Laramie Stefani.

Throughout the United States, dozens of communities participate in Law Enforcement Torch Runs. These events raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics. In Montana, torch runs will take place from April through May leading up to the Special Olympics Summer Games in Billings.



Keynote speaker, grandson of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and member of the Founders Council for Special Olympics International, Tim Shriver JR., says that law enforcement participation helps bring a sense of importance and weight to the games.

“And oftentimes the athletes of Special Olympics are people who, for a long time, have been told they don't matter. And Special Olympics is a place where they come and they matter. And the law enforcement showing up says these events, these games matter. We support you. We are behind you. And that has a tremendous impact on Special Olympics broadly, on the athletes, the families themselves, and has been for a long time,” says Shriver.

Trooper Stefani came down from Kalispell for this weekend. He says he enjoys getting to know the athletes and supporting them during the games.

“It's a sense of for us to give back to the community. And why not, what not a better group to give back to than these, the most inspiring people I've ever met are these athletes. And we want to be right here with them as they conquer goals and make accomplishments. And we want to be right there at the podium with them, you know, raising up their hands and handing them an award making them feel just as special as we feel,” says Stefani.

Law enforcement officials and Special Olympics staff are gathering in Helena to not only celebrate the work that has been done but to also prepare for the work ahead.

“In order to celebrate the work that's been done this past year and in past years and to plan for the year ahead. And a big part of that is actually bringing new officers into the fold and training them on what it means to be a part of this, how they can engage, and how departments all across the state can further take part in supporting this mission,” says Shriver.

Special Olympics is not only for law enforcement. All interested folks can get involved and volunteer to support the athletes.