Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove and Police Chief Glen Allen hold the Flame of Hope aloft before law officers’ run to the city border to benefit Special Olympics this morning.
The Special Olympics Flame of Hope passed through Henderson this morning near the end of its annual journey to the state Special Olympics Summer Games in Raleigh, but the journey for the law enforcement officers involved in carrying the torch is just beginning.
The Henderson Police Department, with the backup of the Vance County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, hopes to raise at least $1,000 for the Special Olympics through donations and sales of the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run T-shirt.
The $13 shirts are available at the front desk of the Henderson police station (exact change appreciated, unless you’d like to make a donation on top of the T-shirt purchase) or by contacting the local coordinator of the torch run, police Lt. Irvin Robinson, at 431-6061. Checks made out to the Special Olympics are acceptable.
Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove makes an appeal for contributions. Police Chief Glen Allen, Highway Patrol Sgt. Martin Jones and Mayor Clem Seifert also participated in the ceremony.
Robinson said this afternoon that the local leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised about $500, and “we’re just getting started.” Ideally, Robinson said, the local law enforcement agencies will raise at least $5,000, earning them a place on next year’s T-shirt among the top-earning departments.
The torch begins its 2.5-mile journey to Sunset Gardens.
The highlight of the annual fundraising drive occurred at 10 this morning when about a dozen law officers and supporters gathered outside the police station for a group run with the torch to the city limits at Sunset Gardens.
A crowd largely composed of INCO workers watches the flag wave during the national anthem.
The annual run started with a 10-minute ceremony attended by more than 20 representatives of INCO-RVC, which finds work for people with disabilities.
The Rev. Todd Hester delivers an invocation that notes the fine weather for a run.
Sally Harris leads the Pledge of Allegiance.
The ceremony featured an invocation by the Rev. Todd Hester of Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church, who asked God to bless the law officers for seeking “to serve in a very special way”; the leading of the Pledge of Allegiance by INCO’s Sally Harris; the singing of the national anthem by Steve Hymon, who didn’t let the construction sounds from the library across the street distract him; brief opening remarks by Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert, who said he would have run if he had been invited, then explained that it was too late because he didn’t wear running shoes; and a few comments from Henderson Police Chief Glen Allen and Vance Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove.
Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and others wait to run.
The Special Olympics North Carolina is the official charity of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police; Allen is the president of that group this year. “We raise money as law enforcement volunteers,” the chief said. “I am especially proud that our association has chosen Special Olympics yet again this year as one of our primary sponsorships. … I’m even more proud of the law enforcement volunteers you see standing here.”
Sgt. Martin Jones lights the torch, held by Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove and Police Chief Glen Allen.
Those volunteers — police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers — stood by quietly as Highway Patrol Sgt. Martin Jones lighted the torch, held by the sheriff and police chief. The runners then took off up Breckenridge Street to Garnett Street and south toward Dabney Drive on their 2.5-mile route.
The statewide goal this year is to raise $1 million. Last year the torch run produced $987,000, and it has brought in more than $10 million since it started in North Carolina in 1987.
The torch run involves multiple torches converging on Raleigh from across the state in a marathon that began in January. The run ends Friday with a ceremony at 6:15 p.m. at the Raleigh City Council chambers, followed by the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games at 8 at Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds.