Special Olympics Run Raises Awareness [VIDEO]
Wyoming Special Olympians ran with, and not from, the law through Natrona County on Tuesday.
"Today's run is to raise awareness and hopefully some donations and funds for the Wyoming Special Olympics athletes," Casper Police Sgt. Joe Nickerson said.
"It gives us in law enforcement to spend time with these great athletes and community involvement," Nickerson said.
Besides local police departments, other agencies such as Casper Fire-EMS, Natrona County Sheriff's Office, Natrona County Fire Protection District gathered at a convenience store in Bar Nunn near Interstate 25 to ride motorcycles, police cars, fire trucks, and bicycles south on Poplar Street, east to Center Street and then to downtown.
At Center and C streets, the torch was lit and handed to Brian Doolan, who carried it for the final leg of the run to the Hall of Justice.
"I liked it, it was fun," Doolan said.
He heard about the program and began participating five years ago, he said. "I do basketball, snowboarding, soccer."
Doolan will be competing in basketball and track when the Wyoming Special Olympics starts its summer games in Laramie on Thursday.
The other competitive events are power lifting and aquatics, said Priscilla Dowse, the organization's president and chief executive officer.
The summer games are among five major events during the year for the 1,500 participants in 20 of 23 of the state's counties, Dowse said.
The law enforcement-sponsored torch runs began in Kansas in 1981 and began in Wyoming six years later, Dowse said. Tuesday's run is part of a state-wide circuit that was in northeastern Wyoming on Monday and will finish in Laramie, she said.
"Over the course of time, we've had thousands of police officers that have raised money, run the torch, presented awards, volunteered, done more and more things for Special Olympics Wyoming," she said.
Law enforcement and other first responders in Wyoming intend to raise $100,000 for the programs with awareness from the torch run, pledges, merchandise sales and special events, Dowse said. "They're a pretty determined group of people."