The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics with more than 100,000 law enforcement participants around the world. At its most basic level, the Torch Run is an actual running event where law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes run the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremonies of Special Olympics competitions.
The “Flame of Hope,” which symbolizes the courage and celebration of diversity that represents the spirit of Special Olympics, is the torch carried in the Law Enforcement Torch Run® and is used to light the cauldron at the Special Olympics Games.
Law Enforcement members have long been good friends to Special Olympics. They have emerged as champions of Special Olympics athletes everywhere. Today, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® mobilizes 100,000 law enforcement officers throughout communities in the U.S., Canada and 47 countries.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run® began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise funds for and increase awareness of Special Olympics and conceived the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel to support Special Olympics.
After the Law Enforcement Torch Run® began in 1981, the LETR was quickly endorsed by Special Olympics, Inc. and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), now recognized as the Founding Law Enforcement Organization of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Over the past 33 years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has evolved from a symbolic awareness run to a very significant, annual fundraising effort conducted by the law enforcement community. From Torch Run T-shirt and hat sales and to a wide variety and multitude of special events, such as golf tournaments, Over the Edge, "Tip-A-Cop" events, Polar Plunges®, the World’s Largest Truck Convoy® and Cops on Doughnut Shops® fundraisers, the LETR raises funds so that more Special Olympics athletes can benefit in many areas of their lives through sports training and competition.