Police run torch for Special Olympics

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, June 7, 2018

A handful of Suffolk police officers traded in their uniforms for running shoes to run the Flame of Hope across Suffolk for the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games Thursday morning.

Suffolk officers and sheriff’s deputies took the torch from the Portsmouth Police Department and the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office at 10:30 a.m.

Suffolk’s route, the longest in the region, brought them all the way to the Isle of Wight County line for a total of eight miles down Route 17.

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Suffolk Police Department has been participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for as long as most of the officers can remember, and a lot of the runners have been participating for multiple years.

“The best part is the camaraderie and getting together for the same cause,” said Sgt. Thomas Cain.

Cain is one of the coordinators for the Torch Run along with Master Police Officer Paul Hutta, and this is their fifth year coordinating the event.

“It’s really about the cause and gives back showing that people support the cause,” Hutta said. “We get to support the kids who aren’t able to do this.”

Part of the Torch Run is also to raise money for the Special Olympics Virginia, and in 2017, the Torch Run raised $1.3 million dollars for the cause and a total of $19.8 million since 1986.

The Suffolk team of 15 all took turns holding the roughly two-pound torch during the run.

“I encourage them to do it, because it helps raise awareness of Special Olympics, and just buying a shirt is a donation,” Cain said.

Some of the officers made sure to prepare for the run, but others decided to wing it and hope for the best. One of the officers decided to make the run just a bit more difficult for himself in the spirit of the Special Olympics athletes.

Sgt. Chad Hooker decided to add an additional 20 pounds and wear a mask to make breathing just a bit harder.

“It’s for the cause, and having special needs makes things harder,” Hooker said. “I wanted to do something to make it harder for me to do the run.”

All of the officers were happy to have relatively cool weather as they made the almost eight-mile trek along Bridge Road and over its two bridges.

Their section was just part of a 1,900-mile, seven-day run with more than 2,000 law enforcement officers participating across Virginia.