OTTAWA — The Special Olympics Kansas Flame of Hope makes its way to Ottawa next week.
On Wednesday morning, law enforcement officers and Special Olympics Kansas athletes will join forces to carry the flame through Ottawa.
The torch run starts at 8:30 a.m. in the Kansas State Bank parking lot, 236 N. Main St., Ottawa. Law enforcement officers have carried the flame 1,100 miles through Kansas communities on its way to the Special Olympics Kansas 50th Summer Games opening ceremony Friday at Maize High School.
“Without the support and dedication of law enforcement officers throughout the state we could not do what we do for our athletes,” Special Olympics Kansas spokesperson Heather Waters said. “Law enforcement officers band together with their communities to change attitudes and support Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities. They truly transform lives and we are grateful for all they do.”
Larabe Alexander, Ottawa Police community service officer, will be one of the officers involved in the local run. He has participated in the torch run since 2007. He said this is a special event.
“The Flame of Hope started as a spark and has evolved into a roaring flame,” he said. “I am proud to serve as guardian of the flame.”
Alexander said Special Olympians have a significant place in his heart.
“To see the joy on the athletes’ faces after you place the medals’ around their necks,” he said. “To be able to interact with them they see us [law enforcement] as their heroes — but in all reality — they are the true heroes. The experience for me is beyond anything I could have imagined.”
In 2018, Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run members raised $504,455 for Special Olympics Kansas. Last year, more than 1,700 officers took part in more than 30 runs throughout the state.
The spring’s 2019 Torch Run in Kansas began in Pittsburg on April 17.