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Flame for the games

April 7, 2014 - 7:53am

Several dozen athletes, volunteers, officers and supporters turned out for the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics West Hawaii on Sunday.

The participants carried the “Flame of Hope” from First Hawaiian Bank on Palani Road to the Kona Aquatics Center at Old Kona Airport Park.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the largest grass roots fundraising program benefiting Special Olympics, began in 1981 when Wichita, Kan., Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw a need to raise funds for and increase awareness of Special Olympics. He conceived the idea of the Torch Run as a way to involve the local law enforcement with their communities and Special Olympics, by running the torch in intrastate relays that converge at their local Summer Games.

The Torch Run is now a global event held in all 50 states and in more than 47 countries, according to Special Olympics. Worldwide, some $34 million is raised annually.

Hawaii’s participation in the run started in 1986 with 20 officers carrying the “Flame of Hope” from the state capital to the State Summer Games. In 1987, the Torch Run was named after Troy Barboza, who was killed in the line of duty. Troy was a dedicated coach for Special Olympics Hawaii who rarely missed a practice, according to Special Olympics.

Today in Hawaii, more than 2,500 law enforcement personnel from federal, military, state, county and local agencies participate in the First Hawaiian Bank Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run throughout the state with legs on Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, and Oahu, according to Special Olympics.

Last year, some $450,000 was raised for Special Olympics programs in Hawaii. Since the inception of the Torch Run, some $4.3 million has been raised in Hawaii.