Officers Help Ignite the Opening Ceremony for Special Olympics in North Dakota

Athletes and law enforcement officers from many parts of the state step into the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run

FARGO, N.D. — Hundreds of families ran with officers from the far reaches of North Dakota to light up the state’s Summer Special Olympics.

They’re celebrating 45 years of giving North Dakotans the opportunity to become athletes.

“When you talk to our athletes, what they talk about is having an opportunity to participate just like an NDSU athlete, a Fargo/Davies athlete, an athlete that gets to experience everything else,” said North Dakota Special Olympics President and CEO, Kathy¬†Meagher.

Officers take a break from training and patrol to lead the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

The guardians protect the “Flame of Hope,” igniting a weekend of games for more than 1,600 athletes in the state.

“We’re one big happy family,” said Gary Grove of Grand Forks, co-director of the¬†Torch Run. “Last year across the world, the law enforcement raised $55 million for the Special Olympics.”

“When you bring law enforcement around our athletes, that’s what you see is a whole bucket full of compassion,” Meagher said.

Hundreds volunteer their weekends to help improve lives and brighten flames.

“I get to see them achieve accomplishments which really makes me happy at the end of the day,” said Heather Stueven, a volunteer from Fargo. “It’s rewarding. It’s just a great organization to be a part of and share your time with.”

Law enforcement played a part in the state’s Special Olympics every year since 1981.

For Gary, he’s been part of it for more than 30 years.

“I’ve been Special Olympics on two finals,” Grove said. “One in Alaska, one in Europe. It’s the same no matter where you go. People get along and we support each other.”

A massive family built on supporting each other and having fun.

From June 8th through the 10th, more than 600 athletes in Fargo will compete in Track, Aquatics, Powerlifting and Volleyball events.

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