[Masthead] Fair ~ 66°F  
High: 85°F ~ Low: 47°F
Friday, May 6, 2016

Guarding the flame through Iowa

Monday, July 3, 2006

Special Olympics moment at FH&C

Trotting behind a pickup truck with the Special Olympics logo and a sizable police escort, a team of 27 blue clad runners carried the flame of the Special Olympics through Storm Lake Thursday on the final leg of the journey for Ames.

Stopping at Storm Lake High School temporarily, the team ran down Milwaukee Avenue to Faith, Hope and Charity, flame in the lead. Cars pulled to the side of the road waved to the runners as they passed. Truckers blew their horns in support. To the side of the running wedge, Lt. John Newman of the Howard County, Maryland, Sheriff's Department called military style cadences so the team could keep time.

"Everywhere we go," he yelled.

"Everywhere we go," the panting team answered, slamming their left foot down with each beat.

"People want to know."

"People want to know."

"Who we are."

"Who we are."

"We are torch run."

"We are torch run."

"Special Olympics Torch Run."

"Special Olympics Torch Run."

Staring in Davenport last Saturday, the group is one of three visiting every county in Iowa.

The National Special Olympics games kick off Sunday in Ames.

"Our mission is to guard the flame and raise awareness of the Special Olympics," Newman said. He is one of 24 police officers from all over the country who run the torch to the games. Three Special Olympics athletes run with the group, singing the same cadences as the officers and carrying the flame.

Ralla Lucas has been involved in Special Olympics for 21 years and has won over 300 medals. He says the high point of his life was to speak in his home town of Davenport at the beginning of the run. He addressed a group of special needs people and their parents at Faith Hope and Charity. After Mayor Jon Kruse welcomed the group to town, Lucas said he began Special Olympics in high school. He had wanted to be on a high school team and a teacher recommended the games to him. It turned out he is good at track.

"We are asking for your encouragement," he told a gathered crowd. "We are asking everyone, even without special needs children to come and support us."

The group began its journey at Soldier Field in Chicago, the birthplace of the Special Olympics. It is the 25th anniversary of law enforcement's involvement with the Special Olympics. Now law enforcement in all 50 states and 40 foreign countries are involved.

Dawn Jordan, a patrolwoman from Oregon and a volunteer Special Olympics coach, commented on how someone had said Iowa is a flat state. After running for five days, she commented that it is not flat. She took over torch run duties for her chief when he retired and had always wanted to be part of the final leg of the torch run, which she says is an honor. This year she gets her chance.

"One of the athletes told me 'I feel sorry for people who are not like us, because they don't get a chance to compete,'" Jordan said, becoming choked up. "I said 'I wish more people were like you guys, because if there were, I think the world would be a better place.'"

After visiting Storm Lake, the group is moving on to Cherokee and Ida Grove.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: