By Dan Campana
From all corners of the state, the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run culminated Friday during its final leg as the Flame of Hope reached the 2018 Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games Opening Ceremonies.
The event, held annually at Hancock Stadium on the Illinois State University campus, is described as a moving experience as police officers representing seemingly countless departments gather with Special Olympics athletes to kick off the competition.
Friday night’s ceremonies included the presentation of a $4.5 million check to Special Olympic Illinois by Torch Run officials. The amount reflects money raised throughout the year in various ways – from Cop on a Rooftop to restaurant specials and special events.
Over the last week, regional legs of the Torch Run rolled through the suburbs – no matter the elements – to support the worthy cause. Approximately 3,000 officers carried the Flame of Hope a total of 1,500 miles between Sunday and Friday. Here’s a look at how some local departments participated:
Alsip police officers carried the Torch along a two-mile route on Tuesday. (Alsip police photo)
Beecher police were joined by members of the Illinois Secretary of State Police for the run through town. Other Beecher first responders and residents showed their support along the way during Wednesday’s leg. (Beecher police photo)
Despite somewhat dreary conditions on Sunday, the turnout was strong to back the Lake Forest Police Department’s portion of the Torch Run after its officers received the torch from Lake Bluff police. Four miles later, Lake Forest handed it off to Highwood officers. (Lake Forest police photo)
Hanover Park officers were all smiles after completing their Torch Run leg on Sunday. (Hanover Park police photo)
The rain also wasn’t going to slow down the Niles Police Department’s team of Officer John Gaba, Executive Assistant to the Chief of Police Allie Brown (with her fiancé Ben David) and Intelligence Analyst Adrianna Czerlonko (Niles police photo)
Rockford Police Officer Kim Kiely and Ryan Cory ran a total of six miles from the Rocvale Children’s Home to the department’s District 2 station as the Torch made its way through Winnebago County. (Rockford police photo)
The Vernon Hills Police Department had extra motivation to tackle its three-mile run as five Special Olympics athletes joined their team in the rain. (Vernon Hills police photo)
(Cover photo courtesy of the Addison Police Department)