BEMIDJI-Local law enforcement officers, Special Olympics athletes and other supporters will continue to pass the torch for another year.
The Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police is again supporting Special Olympics by participating in Monday's The Final Leg Law Enforcement Torch Run in Bemidji.
"Each day, different legs of this run pass the torch a little further on to the next group and it ends up down in the Cities for Special Olympics," said Deputy Brian Birt of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office.
The Bemidji portion of The Final Leg Law Enforcement Torch Run will send the "Flame of Hope" on a 76-mile journey to Pequot Lakes. The torch will depart from Paul and Babe at 9 a.m. Other towns along the Bemidji leg include Walker, Hackensack, Backus and Pine River.
Ultimately, the "Flame of Hope" will make it to St. Paul and the University of St. Thomas, which is hosting the 2019 Special Olympics on June 21-23.
Special Olympics athletes will start out the run by taking a slow walk with the torch for the first mile and after that it will be passed on between participants. The running will continue, relay style, with biking, walking and running portions so many different people can participate in any way they are able. Typically, runners will tackle a mile of the race, take a break then join in later on along the route.
Transport vans were donated by Gym Bin in Bemidji this year to monitor the safety of runners and easily switch them out at every mile marker. Those running will be provided with water, sports drinks, power bars and bagels courtesy of Big Apple Bagels.
Law enforcement officers from Beltrami, Hubbard and Cass counties will participate in running with the torch. Birt says that their participation in the Final Leg run builds relationships with the community and local law enforcement.
"I think with all the negativity plastered around about law enforcement that the small things like this we do are a positive thing for law enforcement and the public," said Birt. "Plus, the athletes love to see us out there."
If you go:
What: Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Bemidji kick off
Where: Paul Bunyan and Babe, downtown Bemidji. Run is to Pequot Lakes
When: 9 a.m. Monday, June 17
Natalie Hilden is the Pioneer’s summer reporting intern. Originally from Nevis, she is a senior at South Dakota State University.