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UTPD runs Flame of Hope in support of Special Olympics

The run is part of a 40-year tradition and fundraising partnership between Special Olympics and law enforcement.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics of Tennessee has charted more than 380 miles this summer. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Tennessee Police Department added 15 more to the map. 

Six members of UTPD laced up their shoes to run the Flame of Hope from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to the Alcoa Police Department.

The run is part of a 40-year tradition and fundraising partnership between Special Olympics and law enforcement. 

According to Special Olympics, the event is a crucial fundraising effort across the globe, garnering over $619 million for the organization's athletes since its inception 35 years ago. 

The fundraising efforts have a big impact on the Volunteer State, as well. 

There are more than 18,000 Special Olympics athletes across the state. Funds raised through the Torch Run will go toward helping Tennessee athletes.

UT police officers took off at 11 a.m. from the Torchbearer statue on the corner of Volunteer Boulevard and Peyton Manning Pass. They arrived in Alcoa shortly before 3 p.m.

Special Olympics of Tennessee hopes to complete the Law Enforcement Torch Run by the end of July.

The Torch Run also serves as a sign of hope.

After a devastating year of COVID-19, many athletes were unable to take part in the games they loved, Special Olympics athletes included. 

Special Olympics of Tennessee decided not to host the annual State Summer Games, but they said plans are underway for three Regional Summer Games that will allow for more Special Olympics athletes and partners to participate in this year's events.

Credit: WBIR

Even though the games have been postponed, the love of the games remains strong.

Now, the Flame of Hope is in the hands of the Alcoa Police Department, and the fundraising journey continues.

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