Athletes, officers bring Special Olympics Torch Run through Laurel

Laurel Police and local Special Olympics athletes braved the afternoon heat and ran more than 8 miles northbound on Route 1 Wednesday during the 28th annual Maryland Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.

The run, which took the participants from College Park American Legion Post 217 to the Laurel Police Station, was one of many happening across the country to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics events.

Following the Laurel leg, the Maryland Special Olympics torch was passed over to the Howard County Police Department. The Torch Run events will conclude with a final leg to Towson University, where the games are being held from June 7 to 9.

Three Laurel swimmers and Special Olympics veterans took part in Wednesday's run: Will Hudson, Janet Stallings and Ben Stevick. Surrounded by area law enforcement officers, both running and following along in vehicles, the athletes made their way up Route 1 as passing drivers honked their horns to show support.

Stallings said she was glad she ran, and that she is excited to swim in the games.

"I have butterflies in my stomach," she said.

Hudson, who has been a Special Olympics athlete for 10 years, said he's looking forward to getting "all kinds of medals."

"I'm the king of the sea," Hudson said. "I'm ready."

Laurel Officer Matt Jordan said he thinks the run is a rewarding way to support the athletes.

"The effort they put forth, their heart, their motivation…it's great to do something for them," Jordan said.

Cpl. Joseph Johnson, who yelled words of encouragement to the runners throughout the afternoon, agreed.

"This is the only time I've seen anyone run 8.5 miles and smile at the end of it," Johnson said. "They did extremely well."

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