May 28, 2019
(Rachel Friederich, DOC Communications)
Department of Corrections employees will be donning uniforms of t-shirts and running shoes this week as part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraiser for Special Olympics Washington. The Special Olympics organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, according to its website.
Corrections employees will join law enforcement agency staff statewide to carry the Special Olympics Torch through many counties May 29-31. Runners pass the torch, known as “The Flame of Hope,” to as many people as possible. Runners bring the flame to Pacific Lutheran University in Pierce County, where the Special Olympics Washington games begin.
“It’s all about the camaraderie, the uniting into action of agencies to do something good in the community,” said Clallam Bay Corrections Center Correctional Unit Supervisor James Mason in a 2018 interview. Mason helps coordinate the event every year. He has also run in past events and got to be one of the torch bearers (also known as “Guardians of the Flame.”)
Approximately 2,000 law enforcement personnel take part in the event each year. Several corrections employees have done so for many years.
Washington Corrections Center staff member, Steven DeMars, has partaken in the event for three years. Runners from the Mason County Sheriff’s team approached DeMars three years ago. He’s helped grow the Mason County corrections team each year since.
Washington Corrections Center staff participate, as well as, staff from Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women and community corrections employees. In addition to day-of-event tasks, team members volunteer time to sell t-shirts and speak about the event to their community groups.
DeMars says the most rewarding part is giving back to the (Special Olympics) kids and seeing them smile.”
In Thurston County, Community Corrections Officer Dino Mayo coordinates a team of runners. They start at the Tumwater Safeway and end up at the Winged Victory Monument at the state’s Capitol Campus in Olympia.
Mayo has participated in the run for the past 15 years. He says Special Olympics Washington means a lot to him because he has family members who have disabilities, including a brother with cerebral palsy.
“We need to see people as handi-capable and not handicapped,” Mayo said in a 2017 interview. “These are citizens who are productive, eager and normal, but society doesn’t always see them that way. They may not feel included.”
Dates and Locations:
- Wednesday, May 29 – Whatcom, Skagit, Clallam, and Jefferson counties, Tri-Cities
- Thursday, May 30 – Snohomish, Kitsap, Lewis, and Mason counties
- Friday, May 31 – Pierce, Thurston, and King counties
To register for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, visit https://impact.sowa.org/event/2019-law-enforcement-torch-run/e224538
For a list of teams in your area or to order t-shirts for your agency, contact Torch Run manager, Ellie Hardwick.