Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Law Enforcement Kicks off Torch Run

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Law Enforcement Kicks off Torch Run

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

With a sharp command of "Double time - march,!" Jacksonville Sheriff's Office trainees kicked off the Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics Florida down East Bay Street with their future bosses in the lead.

Patrol director Michelle Cook initially bore the torch that burns in support of Special Olympics, joining Chief of Personnel Larry Schmitt and Chief of Investigations Chris Butler as they led about 200 law enforcement officers from state, local and federal departments, and local Special Olympians on a three-mile run around downtown Friday.

Javon Robinson, one of 600 athletes from seven area counties competing Saturday at the area Special Olympics Summer Games at Atlantic Coast High School at 9735 RG Skinner Parkway, said it was great to see the officers running to help them. He competes in tennis Saturday, while soccer, track and field, boccie and bicycling events also occur.

"It feels awesome," he said. "... It amazes me, but it's good that they all join together and do it for fun. It's good."

It meant a lot to see all the law enforcement members who raised a record amount to help athletes compete Saturday and mid-May at the state games, Duval County Special Olympics Director Jessica Ray said.

"The beauty of this event is that it happens in all of the counties where we have programs in Florida, and it also happens nationwide and internationally," Ray said. "The money goes to pay for new equipment, uniforms and, of course, our travel to all our state games. We have more than 1,500 athletes served in Duval alone and it definitely makes a big impact."

More than 5,000 law enforcement officers from 300 state, local and federal agencies in Florida participate in the annual statewide torch run, carrying it on a 1,500-mile relay through 67 counties. The "Flame of Hope" started its journey March 27 in Escambia County. …

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