Pittsboro, NC – First responders, residents, and athletes across Chatham County recently partnered for the 2021 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC). According to SONC, “The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics is the largest year-round public awareness and grass-roots fundraising campaign for Special Olympics. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremony of local competitions and into Special Olympics State, National, Regional, and World Games.”
“Our support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run is our way of showing love and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities,” says Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson. “It is up to each of us to cultivate positive change within our own communities. The Flame of Hope is just an outward representation of what we feel in our hearts.”
From May 23 through 24, 2021, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office had the honor of escorting the Flame of Hope across Chatham County. The torch passed through the hands of deputies, detention officers, firefighters, troopers, wildlife officers, and others willing to take a stand for courage, diversity, and inclusion.
“Participating in the Torch Run is a memorable and exciting experience for all involved. The exhilaration, camaraderie, and feelings of unity and pride—especially when carrying the torch—are unmatched,” says Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Sara Pack. “Each person carries the torch for only a few minutes, but they’ll carry the Flame for a lifetime.
“It’s always heartwarming to see the community coming together to support a good cause,” says Sheriff’s Office Special Olympics Coordinator Captain Chris Cooper. “Even in the heat, runners were smiling and cheering each other on. We are especially grateful to all of our partnering agencies who helped make the event a success.”
More than 60 participants turned out for the run, including members of the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, North Chatham Fire Department, and Siler City Police Department. Sheriff’s Office Deputy Johnny Thomas, who also owns and operates Rising Pros Training, LLC, rallied a group of young athletes to join the run alongside law enforcement.
“It’s important to develop the youth in our community so they can grow into healthy, capable adults,” says Deputy Thomas. “We can do that by getting them involved in activities from an early age that build confidence and positive habits, like staying fit, active, and mindful. It’s important for them to see adults leading by example and staying engaged within the community.”
Sheriff Mike Roberson and members of the Sheriff’s Office were present in Raleigh on May 27 to welcome the torch to its final destination, where the Flame of Hope was used to light a cauldron to signify the official opening of the Summer Games.
“It was a very moving and inspiring ceremony,” says Lieutenant Jessica Norton, who serves on the Sheriff’s Office SONC Committee which organizes LETR events in Chatham County. “It’s a great reminder of how meaningful and appreciated our community-wide fundraising efforts are to athletes and their families.”
The next opportunity to get involved with Special Olympics NC in Chatham County will be on August 30, 2021, at the 4th Annual Charity Golf Tournament at Governors Club. All funds raised from this event go directly to Special Olympics NC to support athletes as they participate in Summer, Fall, and Winter Games in our state. For more information on how to register or donate to the cause, contact Captain Chris Cooper at .