Flame of Hope blazes a trail through Port Orchard

Members of Kitsap County law enforcement carried the Flame of Hope through Port Orchard on Thursday afternoon. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
Members of Kitsap County law enforcement carried the Flame of Hope through Port Orchard on Thursday afternoon.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

A team of runners carrying a single torch made its way through Port Orchard this week bound for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and then onto Fort Lewis and McChord AFB to light the beginning of the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games.

The summer games will be held at Fort Lewis this weekend with athletes from all over Kitsap County competing in various events.

In 2000, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild partnered with other local law enforcement agencies to form Kitsap Officers Supporting Special Olympics (KOSSO).

Law enforcement officers from KOSSO ran carrying the Special Olympics torch, known as the “Flame of Hope,” during a relay that combined running and boating throughout Kitsap County, a portion of Key Peninsula and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

This relay is part of a nationwide Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) to raise community awareness about the needs of Special Olympics.

The vision of Special Olympics is to help bring all those with developmental disabilities into larger society under conditions where they are accepted, respected and given the chance to become useful and productive citizens.

More than 7,000 athletes compete in Special Olympics Washington; around 2.25 million athletes compete in Special Olympics programs in more than 150 countries.

At the most basic level, the LETR Campaign is an actual running event in which law enforcement and athletes run the “Flame of Hope” to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, State Games, and National Summer or Winter Games.

As part of the Opening Cere-monies, a law enforcement participant passes the torch to a Special Olympics athlete to light the flame that signals the opening of the Games.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is scheduled to coincide with the start of the 2010 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games, to be held at Fort Lewis and McChord AFB beginning with the opening ceremonies on June 4 and continuing through June 6.

“I’m pleased to join with the county’s law enforcement agency chiefs, deputies, police officers, troopers, special agents, U. S. Armed Forces personnel, law enforcement family members, and staff and volunteers in supporting this extremely important effort,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “While there are a large number of outstanding causes that are supported by law enforcement, Special Olympics has always held an extra-special place in our endeavors towards community involvement. The joy, purpose and sense of accomplishment demonstrated by these special athletes serve as an example for all of us.”

Agencies and personnel participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run include: Bainbridge Island Police Department, Bremerton Police Department, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Base Kitsap Master-at-Arms Force, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Northwest Field Office, Poulsbo Police Department, Port Orchard Police Department, Suquamish Police Department, Washington State Patrol, District 8, Gig Harbor Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. In addition, non-law enforcement county employees and other interested civilians are adding their ‘legs’ to the torch run by joining in on the relay.

This year the Kitsap County Law Enforcement Torch Run starts at Bainbridge Island and ends after the torch is carried over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

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