With the help of several dedicated runners, the torch — known as the Flame of Hope — made it to Cowling Park in London Friday for a stop in Madison County.
The annual Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run, which celebrates the start of Special Olympics Ohio, culminated at Ohio Stadium in Columbus later in the evening.
The run starts at the four corners of the state, and works its way toward the state capital.
The Torch Run is the single largest grassroots fund-raising program for Special Olympics Ohio. More than 2,500 athletes from 66 Ohio counties and 103 local Special Olympics organizations will participate. The goal is to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Ohio.
FBI special agent Bixby led the runners into the London park shortly after noon Friday, holding the torch high. Before the torch’s arrival, a luncheon was held.
Event organizer Jeannie Porter, a dispatcher with the London Police Department, said organizing the event was a team effort, with local officials and business sponsors pitching in.
“We all work together,” she said.
The London stop is part of the Cincinnati leg of the torch run, Porter said. The runners started the stretch at the Ohio State Highway Patrol post in Clark County.
The Kroger Company has served as the presenting sponsor for the Torch Run for the past nine years. Officers visit Kroger stores as they travel to Columbus on their respective routes.
Casey’s Carryout & Drive-Thru, Takacs Family Ice Cream, Walmart, the London Police Department Police Union, Phat Daddy’s and Bob Evans are also sponsors.
Following the visit to Cowling Park, runners were scheduled to continue to Kroger’s and Sherwin-Williams in London. After that, they will proceed to the West Jefferson OSHP post, and into Columbus to the stadium.
The Madison Special Olympic Coordinator Lincoln Comer said the London stop was a much-needed rest for the runners.
“This is a good break for them,” he said.
Comer said Madison County special Olympians would be competing in sports such as volleyball, bocce ball, bowling and track and field in the games.
Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.