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Carrying the flame of Special Olympics

Smiling faces and warm temperatures greeted members of the Claremont Police Department (CPD) and athletes from Special Olympics Pomona Valley as they ran side-by-side down Foothill Boulevard for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.

Athletes Michael Evans, Kenny Williams and Austin Frederick took turns carrying the “Flame of Hope” down the 2.3 miles stretch of Claremont road with Austin leading the pack as he accepted the handoff from the Upland Police Department at Monte Vista Boulevard.

Claremont Police Aides Yvette Walker and Zachary Martin ran alongside Sgt. Lori Davenport and Police Aide Michael Hillman, who carried the torch with pride through the City of Trees. For first time runner Mr. Martin, the event presented an opportunity to show kids that everything is possible.

 “The Torch Run and the Special Olympics is a good example on how to stay strong through adversity and teaches integrity. I’m excited to be a part of it this year,” Mr. Martin shared with the COURIER.

For Ms. Walker, an 8-year Torch Run veteran, the event holds a special place in her heart. “My stepson has special needs so my husband and I support this organization every year with the run. The torch is passed to everybody and nobody gets left behind. It’s a really wonderful thing.”

Each year, more than 4,000 officers and Special Olympics athletes proudly run throughout Southern California in May and June carrying the “Flame of Hope” as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg. The run is made up of three main legs (North, Central and South) and nearly a dozen smaller legs that convene at the Summer Game championships where they unite into a single flame.

Officers from local, county, state, federal and military agencies run 1,500 miles across the southland and through 200 communities with the torch to raise awareness for Special Olympics Southern California.

Upland resident Anissa Campbell and her two children, Nora and Andrew, came out to the San Bernardino/Los Angeles County Line to show their support for law enforcement and the Special Olympics.

“The Special Olympics is a fabulous organization and when I heard about the run coming through town, I wanted to share it with my kids,” says Ms. Campbell. “Being able to show our support for all the athletes and cheer them on as they approach the Summer Games was a great experience for all of us.”

The Torch Run is expected to conclude at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, June 6 at USC’s Loker Stadium. An officer and a Special Olympics athlete will then carry the torch into the Opening Ceremony and symbolize the start of the 2014 Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games Invitational.

This year, Special Olympics Pomona Valley (SOPV) will participate in three events at the Summer Games with athletes from Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas, Pomona, Glendora and Walnut coming together to compete.

“We’ve got 12 athletes competing in track and field, 10 athletes in basketball and a team of 5 for bocce,” says Russ Evans, Area Director for SOPV. “We’re going to have a lot of fun!”

The 2014 Summer Games Invitational kick off on Friday, June 6 and conclude on Sunday, June 8.

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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