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August 8, 2022

Special Olympics Torch Travels Through Town

Police carry the light for disabled athletes

Early on the morning of the longest day of the year, June 21, residents of Cloverdale noticed an unusual  police escort for some runners winding through town. An hour and a half later, at 8:30am, they reached Healdsburg, where they were also granted an escort through the heart of this riverside town.

They were part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) (www.sonc.org/LETRtorchrun), to raise awareness and vital funds to save sports, health, fitness and education programs for Special Olympics Northern California athletes.

As a nonprofit organization, SONC offers free year-round training and competition programs for 26,218 athletes who take part in nearly 400 competitions annually. It is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities through inclusive sports, education, leadership and health programs. SONC is also committed to improving the overall health and well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities through Healthy Athletes events, offering health screenings and services free of charge.

The national Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 in Wichita, KS, and is the largest grass-roots fundraising movement for the Special Olympics.

Local law enforcement officers who took part included Police Chief Matt Jenkins, as well as Officer Darryl Erkel, Lt. Luis Rodriguez and his son, Angel Rodriguez. Their route took them from the Community Center south on Healdsburg Avenue to Matheson, from where they looped through the downtown neighborhoods of Hayden, Fitch and Front streets, ending at Giorgio’s Restaurant on Old Redwood Highway.

“We went through the neighborhoods so that we do not have a conflict with the US-101 at Central off-ramp,” said Jenkins. “As usual, we received a nice response from the community—lots of waves, some cheering, a few taps of the horns to encourage us along.”

The day ended at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in Santa Rosa, and on Wednesday the torch traveled to an affiliated Marin County agency through Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Petaluma.