Law officers run last leg with torch Event will open Special Olympics


Culminating a year of fund-raising efforts, law enforcement officers will take up the final leg of a torch run tomorrow evening to help open the Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games at the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run -- first held in Wichita, Kan., and emulated in other states -- has raised about $750,000 in Maryland since it was begun here in 1986 to support and promote the Special Olympics.

The Torch Run begins with events at the city and county level, where participating police and correctional officers compete in races -- and pay $15 for a Torch Run T-shirt, accounting for much of the money raised.

In the final leg, several of the expected 200 participants take turns carrying the flame on a run of 3.2 miles from the Hyattsville Police Department to the Olympics' opening ceremonies at Cole Field House on campus.

The fund-raising efforts also foster a relationship between the athletes and law enforcement officers, who present Olympians with their medals. More than 1,000 athletes are expected to compete this weekend.

"It's one of those natural relationships," says Sgt. Richard C. Fahlteich, a Torch Run organizer with the Baltimore City Police Department.

"The law enforcement officers are considered the guardians of the flame," says Beth Richel, director of special events for the Maryland chapter of the Special Olympics.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 7: 30 p.m. and include fireworks and a concert by country singer David Kersh. Competition will take place Saturday and Sunday in track and field, aquatics, bowling, equestrian events and softball, and is open to the public.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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