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Law Enforcement Torch Run ends day in Rochester

The annual event raises funds and support for the Minnesota Summer Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run
Brandon Hall of Rochester carries the torch for the first time during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run along 3rd Avenue Southeast heading towards the Olmsted County Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — The 95-mile journey of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope concluded Wednesday in Rochester from Hastings, Minnesota.

Along the way, it had runner and bicycle rider escorts of people from law enforcement agencies, fire departments and corrections facilities from throughout Southeast Minnesota for various legs of the journey.

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Since 1986, Minnesota law enforcement agencies have participated in a Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Minnesota Summer Special Olympics. The event raises funds for and awareness of the games throughout the state.

Eight members of area law enforcement agencies made the entire trek Wednesday — Torgerson, two police officers from the Rochester Police Department; two officers from Winona Police Department and Hastings Police Chief David Wilske. Torch runners were escorted by an Olmsted County Deputy and a Winona police officer.

“These people, the Special Olympics Athletes and their families, have challenges every day,” said Kevin Torgerson, Olmsted County Sheriff. “This is one day of the year we can do something to support them when they work so hard 365 days a year.”

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Torgerson participated in the inaugural run in 1986 as a first-year deputy with the office. An avid runner, he has participated in every run since except one year in which he was injured but drove a support squad car for the riders and runners.

Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson leads a chant as athlete Brandon Hall carries the torch during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run along 3rd Avenue Southeast heading towards the Olmsted County Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

This year, participants will run a total of 925 miles through communities across Minnesota. The final leg of the run will conclude in Stillwater, Saturday June 25, 2022, at the Summer Games opening ceremonies there.

The Olmsted County contingent left from Rochester for Hastings at 5 a.m. and returned to Rochester about 12 hours later to pose for photos at the Government Center shortly before 6 p.m.

Anyone can join the run. Participants show their support by donating $20 and receive a commemorative T-shirt or hat.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 in Kansas, with the purpose of encouraging law enforcement to be active in the community and support Special Olympics Kansas.

Since the run was established, it has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs.

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the law enforcement agencies of the torch runners who completed the entire run Wednesday.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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