Sandusky residents have an opportunity to participate in a statewide event in honor of the Special Olympics this weekend.
The Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run begins today and runs until June 27. The race raises funds for Special Olympics Ohio as law enforcement officers from around the state will carry the “Flame of Hope.”
Sandusky will have its own Torch Run Sunday, June 22 at 8:30 a.m., beginning at Perkins High School and ending at the Sandusky Police station. The event will continue on to Put-in-Bay, where a parade is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by an event in Port Clinton at 5 p.m.
Local organizer and Sandusky police patrol Sergeant Tracey Susana began organizing the event a few years ago, but with little turnout. The Torch Run has become more successful in recent years, with help from other organizations.
“It’s a grassroots way for officers to be involved with the Special Olympics,” she said.
The event is open to those outside law enforcement as well. Participants may run or bike in the event, with support vehicles standing by if needed.
“All we ask is to try and do what they can,” she said.
From the high school, the run will go north on Campbell Street and stop at a local Kroger, as the company sponsors the event. Afterwards, it will continue west on Perkins Avenue, then north on Hayes Avenue to Columbus Avenue with a stop at the Erie County Law Enforcement Memorial. From there, a group of Special Olympic athletes will join the event and finish at the Sandusky police station. Fruit and light refreshments will be served there.
The Torch Run has meant more to the police department in recent years. Officer Andrew Dunn, who was killed in the line of duty March 19, 2011, was “a huge supporter of the Special Olympics,” according to the police department’s Facebook page.
Susana represented Ohio in New Jersey for the Special Olympics Summer Games last weekend. She and other representatives ran in New York and New Jersey to spread the message of equality for those with disabilities.
While there, Susana ran with a man from an Arkansas Special Olympics group who finished the marathon in a little over three hours.
Though it was daunting at first, Susana couldn’t be any more proud that she went.
Susana believes that everyone should have equal opportunities, no matter their mental or physical status.
“We all have different abilities,” she said. “[Those with disabilities] deserve to be respected like everyone else.”
“We’re all looking for acceptance,” she added. “It’s a worthy cause.”
Last year, the Torch Run, the largest grass roots fundraiser for Special Olympics in the world, along with other related events raised more than $530,000 for Special Olympics Ohio, with more than 2,000 officers participating. Athletes from across the state will gather in Columbus, where they will join with the State Highway Patrol Academy to carry the torch to the Opening Ceremony of the State Summer Games.
Want to go?
What: 2014 Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run
Where: Perkins High School, 3714 Campbell Street, Sandusky. Participants should meet at the north side of the school.
When: Sunday, June 22 at 8:30 a.m.
More: The event is open to people of all ages with a $25 donation. To register for the event, go to www.sooh.org or sign up the day of the event. For more information, call Tracey Susana at 419-202-9627 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.