Police pound pavement for Special Olympians

first_imgDennis Dole sat on the curb, clutching a bronze-colored torch and wiping his rain-soaked brown hair out of his eyes.Surrounded by athletes and officers, celebrating with hugs and high-fives, one thing wouldn’t be wiped away: Dole’s smile.The 13-year-old Camas resident was one of about 25 Special Olympians who joined with police officers and deputy prosecutors Wednesday on an 11-mile jaunt that wound through downtown Vancouver and ended at the Public Safety Complex at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield.The annual Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run is both a public awareness campaign and fundraiser, signaling the arrival of this weekend’s statewide Special Olympics at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.Special Olympics is a more than 40-year-old organization that provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.“We were switching off,” Dole said of the torch. “I ended up with it.”The torch run, which started in Kansas in 1981, has raised $500,000 in Washington for the Special Olympics in recent years. In Washington, the run is supported by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. More than 2,000 people from 80 agencies are involved in the torch run each year.Officers with the Vancouver, Camas, Washougal and Ridgefield police departments, Clark County sheriff’s deputies and deputy prosecutors participate every year. Dole, who said he “ran all the way, but stopped once,” described running with the officers as an uplifting experience. “We share laughs,” he said.John Ringo, a member of the Vancouver Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit, said it’s those laughs that bring him back each year.last_img

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