What is the Law Enforcement Torch Run?

The mission of the Northern California Law Enforcement Torch Run, in partnership with our communities, is to support Special Olympics Programs through raising funds and public awareness, while enhancing the quality of life of our athletes.

The History: The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw a need to raise awareness of and funds for Special Olympics. He conceived the idea of the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement with their communities and Special Olympics, by running the torch in intra-state relays that converge at their local Summer Games.

Today: Now a global event, all 50 states and over 35 foreign countries participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, generating over $38 million for Special Olympics Programs around the world. Since its inception in 1981, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised over $100,000,000 worldwide. It is the largest grass roots fundraising program and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics.

Northern California: Over 3,000 law enforcement personnel from Federal, Military, State, County and Local agencies participate in the Torch Run campaign. Funds are raised through a variety of activities, such as; Billboard Sits, Tip-A-Cops, Polar Plunges, and T-Shirt Sales. In June, hundreds of law enforcement personnel carry the Special Olympics Torch, the Flame of Hope through counties all over Northern California, culminating at the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Games.  Northern California is one of the highest grossing programs in the Western Region. As one of the state’s largest grassroots fundraising efforts, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has become the single largest supporter of the annual Special Olympics Summer Games.

About Special Olympics: Special Olympics provides year round sports competition and training opportunities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to them or their families. Special Olympics also provides health and fitness trainings as well as educational programming in our schools promoting acceptance and respect for all.

But Special Olympics is more than sports, it is training for life! Through their participation, Special Olympics athletes gain self-confidence and self-esteem that carries over into their every day lives, making them contributing members in their communities.