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Florida Law Enforcement Running After Charity For Special Olympics

Thomas Andrew Gustafson

It’s a dreary, drizzly day. But the bright colored shirts, the cheering and speeches of camaraderie, hard work, and jobs well done, create some sunshine on the back steps of the old Capitol building. It’s the start of the 30th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run benefiting the Special Olympics and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is welcoming the crowd.

“Each year since 1984, city, county, state, federal law enforcement officers and our great correctional staff carry the flame of hope into the stadium at the opening  ceremonies of the annual Florida State summer games in May,” Said Bondi.

The torch run actually began an hour before the big event at the capitol.  Florida Governor Rick Scott along with other runners covered the first two miles of the 1500 mile run across the state of Florida:  running from a nearby Publix – the largest sponsor of the run – to the Capitol. Governor Scott thanked Law Enforcers and went on to explain how his 2013 budget will help those with disabilities.

“My budget has 36 million dollars to provide critical services to people who are on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities waiting list. Which means that hundreds of families who need support will get it. On top of that another 2.5 million dollars for job services,” said Governor Scott.

Throughout the event, many speakers from Tallahassee Mayor John Marks to Florida Secretary of Education Tony Bennett and Secretary of Corrections Mike Crews talked about their pride in the athletes and law enforcement. Attorney General Bondi says it’s the largest grassroots fundraiser in the nation. President of the Florida Special Olympics Sherry Wheelock explained the importance of what’s happening.

“The torch run isn’t just an event. But it’s part of a larger movement across the world to bring tolerance, and acceptance, and inclusion. And the law enforcement is making a huge impact. At each leg of the way we’re supporting our athletes not only from a fundraising perspectives but also bring awareness to their abilities and what they can bring to the community,” said Wheelock.

The funds for the Florida Special Olympics are raised through both Torch Run shirts and hats along with special events that will be taking place throughout the State as the run continues until the summer games in May.