The final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run paraded through the town of Oakland on Friday, June 3.
The LETR aims to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into opening ceremonies of local competitions as well as state, provincial, national, regional, and world games.
The final leg, which began in Chicago on May 20, traveled the Midwest and east coast before arriving in Florida on May 31. The leg then traveled along both Florida coasts before making its historic and final stop in Orlando. The custom-made cauldron will be lit to start the games during the opening ceremony on Sunday, June 5.
Joe Dzaluk, president and CEO of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, said the Flame of Hope represents the mission of Special Olympics, symbolizing inclusion, courage and diversity.
"We invite everyone to follow the Flame of Hope, the dedicated law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes serving as its trusted guardians, as they make their way to Orlando for the largest USA Games in history," he said.
Local Special Olympics athletes and coaches gathered outside the Oakland Town Hall to cheer on members of law enforcement and six Special Olympics athletes.
After the completion of the run, attendees gathered in front of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center.
Lori Newcomb, vice president of development at Special Olympics Florida, described the history of the event and gave an introduction to several speakers including athlete Aaron Drescher, local Special Olympics training director Laurie Chmielewski, Idaho police sergeant Adam Matthews and town of Oakland police officer Rene Castro.
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will unite more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from all 50 states, and the Caribbean, and 125,000 spectators during one of the country’s most cherished sporting events.
The games will run from June 5-12 with the majority of the competitions taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.