Hundreds of law officers from across Iowa are making their way — on foot — across the state this week, heading for central Iowa. It’s the 26th annual Special Olympics Torch Run and it’ll kick off the Summer Games in Ames for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Jeanette Steinfeldt is director of the Torch Run and says between 300 and 400 Iowa law officers are making the effort. “We have our final leg scheduled for Thursday,” Steinfeldt says. “We’ll be kicking it off from the Department of Public Safety building in downtown Des Moines at 10 A.M.
The officers will be carrying the torch all the way to Hilton Coliseum in Ames where they’ll exchange the torch with a Special Olympics athlete and they’ll light the cauldron to kick off the Summer Games.” Steinfeldt credits the law enforcement community for its generous support of Special Olympics in Iowa each year.
“The law enforcement officers usually generate over $600,000 for Special Olympics through different fundraisers, like our Polar Plunges,” she says. “We do t-shirt sales, we do Cop on Tops at the local WalMarts, we have raffle tickets that we sell.” Pam Wagner, vice president of programs for Special Olympics Iowa, is expecting an excellent turnout with seven featured sports in the three-day Summer Games.
We’re going to have around 3,000 athletes from around the state come to compete,” Wagner says. “We’ll have our opening ceremonies. We have Olympic Festival where the athletes can go and play games and have fun. We have sports clinics they may attend to improve their skills and we also have a dance for them.”
The games started two-and-a-half decades ago with about 6,000 athletes in four events. Now, with the Winter and Summer Games, there are 11,000 athletes competing in 22 sports. Learn more at: “www.soiowa.org”
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City