MORRIS – On Thursday morning, multiple police agencies could be seen working with Morris police and the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department in downtown Morris.
There wasn’t a criminal on the loose or a state of emergency. A special cause brought the agencies together – the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois.
Morris police, the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department, Dwight Police Chief Tim Henson, deputies from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the Illinois Department of Corrections all met to carry and pass on the torch Thursday.
Special Olympians Katie Malcolm, who will be competing in the Illinois Summer Games, and her friend, Rikki Kirsch, who will be representing Team Illinois in the National Games in New Jersey, were there to cheer them on.
“Katie Malcolm is one of our biggest supporters and just a ray of sunshine,” Morris Chief Brent Dite said.
The Torch Run, which began in 1986, is the largest fundraising vehicle for Special Olympics Illinois and serves as a symbol of the games themselves.
“It’s basically our main chosen charity. It’s what we do,” Dite said. “It’s the biggest fundraiser for Special Olympics, and more and more agencies are getting involved.”
The Morris Police Department fundraises throughout the year to donate to Special Olympics with events like the Faculty vs. The Fuzz basketball game and Cop on Top events.
Dite said they’ve raised between $4,000 and $5,000 this year.
“The more money we raise the more athletes can participate,” Dite said. “It’s very important.”
Morris officers Jessica Smith, Tristan Borzick, Paul Burke and Derek Zumbahlen represented the Morris police along with Chief Dite and Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan as they ran down Liberty carrying the “Flame of Hope,” ending at the sheriff’s office on Illinois Avenue where it was handed off to be taken by bicycle to Dwight by Henson, deputies from Livingston County and officers from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
“It’s obviously a great cause,” Callahan said. “It’s great to let the people in the community know that local police are involved and ready to participate.”
About 3,000 officers representing every branch of law enforcement across the state from local police officers to FBI agents will carry the “Flame of Hope” nearly 1,500 miles, running through thousands of Illinois communities via 23 different routes to its final destination – the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games this weekend in Normal.
The events by the different departments involved include 5K races, polar plunges and more. Those events have helped make the Torch Run the largest year-round fundraising event for the games, raising close to $28 million over 27 years, according to the Special Olympics, www.soill.org. Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities for training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Morris Police Department is still selling raffle tickets for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to benefit Special Olympics with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Morris Police Station, 200 E. Chapin St., from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Monday through Friday.