Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Announces Record $42.6 Million Raised for Special Olympics in 2011
Calgary, Alberta – November 9, 2011 – Law enforcement officers around the world go above and beyond the call of duty year-round in support of Special Olympics through the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR).
From November 2 - 6 in Calgary, Alberta, the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Conference brought together almost 1,000 Law Enforcement Officers, Torch Run volunteers, and Special Olympics program leaders involved in the LETR. Conference participants recognized the work of people and programs worldwide who have made significant contributions to its growth and also commemorated milestones in the fundraiser’s 30-year history.
The theme of the conference, "Reaching New Heights," reflected the LETR as not only a successful fundraising tool for Special Olympics at the grassroots level, but also as an important mechanism for the continued growth of opportunities for Special Olympics athletes around the world.
The LETR began 30 years ago with founder, Chief Richard LaMunyon, and five law enforcement officers who carried the Torch for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita. The LETR has since become much more than an annual run for Special Olympics Summer Games. For the many involved with the LETR it represents honor, respect and pride. It has become a worldwide community of Law Enforcement officers rallying to support Special Olympics, the impetus for millions of new friendships around the world, and a series of events including Torch Runs, Polar Plunge® fundraisers, and Tip-A-Cop® events.
The LETR is the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics with more than 85,000 law enforcement participants around the world. It was announced at the conference last week that the LETR raised more than $42.6 million in 2011 for Special Olympics athletes and a cumulative sum of more than $410 million since its inception in 1981.
As Chief LaMunyon stated in his opening remarks at the conference, Law Enforcement and Special Olympics are "a perfect match" as both Law Enforcement Officers and Special Olympics athletes exemplify bravery within their communities.
Chief LaMunyon, in his address at the Hall of Fame Reception, said of the torch and the Law Enforcement Torch Run that, "In every corner of the world the light cast by this flame represents hope, justice, freedom; it represents life. Its intensity is fueled by you, the men and women of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and with the passing of the Torch we proclaim that we shall continue to be the Guardians of the Flame, reaffirming our commitment to Special Olympics athletes worldwide to change lives by creating a world of empowerment, dignity, understanding, and acceptance."
Mike Peretti, Chairman of the LETR Executive Council, challenged Special Olympics programs to increase the annual revenues to $50 million by 2015. Special Olympics and the LETR are looking forward to celebrating another set of milestones next year at the LETR conference which will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; www.facebook.com/specialolympics; www.youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and http://specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
About the Law Enforcement Torch Run
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics is the movement's largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle, encompassing a variety of events including Torch Runs, Polar Plunge events, and the World's Largest Truck Convoy fundraiser. More than 85,000 international law enforcement officers have carried the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremonies of local and state/provincial Special Olympics competitions and Games, and Special Olympics World Summer or Winter Games. The LETR is now present in all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and 46 nations around the world. In 2010, the LETR raised more than $38 million for Special Olympics Programs around the world and has raised more than $410 million since its inception in 1981.