The Illinois State Police carried the “Flame of Hope” from Effingham to Mattoon on Wednesday for the Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run. They were joined by the Lightning Special Olympics Team for the first leg of the run in downtown Effingham. According to ISP District 12 officer Sargent Ron Will, the event is to raise awareness and funds to support the Illinois Special Olympics. This year’s run has raised over $11,000 to support local Special Olympians in the Summer Games in Bloomington.
Will said that participating in the Torch Run is about helping people.
Donations came from private individuals and businesses. One organization that supported the event was the local Walmart, who gave $2000 as part of a matching grant program within the company. Manager Bob Lakin attended the run to present the check to the participants.
According to Vanessa Duncan, Area 9 Special Olympics Coordinator, it costs over $16,000 to bring all of the Area 9 Special Olympians to the Summer Games. Costs come from feeding and housing the athletes while they compete.
Since Duncan has been in the position of Area 9 Director, she has tried to raise awareness for the Torch Run and works closely with the ISP District 12 to raise support for the event.
The 2016 Summer Games for the Illinois Special Olympics begin on Friday in Bloomington.