LIMA — About 40 law enforcement officers and 20 athletes joined forces to carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope through Allen County Monday.
This is Lima’s third time hosting the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The Flame of Hope makes its way through over 40 counties statewide on its way to Columbus for Ohio’s 48th State Summer Games, slated for Friday through Sunday at The Ohio State University.
Organizer Kaity Weidman, Lima Police Department Patrolman, said the event can take months of preparation, but the work is well worth it when the athletes join them.
“The athletes meet us at the sheriff’s office, and we run the last three blocks together under the flag through the Town Square, and that’s the best part,” Weidman said. “It’s a lot of work, but the last five minutes of running with the athletes makes the three months of work bringing it together worth it.”
This year’s run began in front of the Lima Police Department for a three-mile trek through downtown. But for those who aren’t runners, the route could also be biked, and a Buckeye Charter bus was shortly behind.
Lima Chief of Police Kevin Martin has participated in the Allen County run each year.
“It usually embarrasses me (when the athletes join in) because they are in better shape than I am,” Martin joked. “They love hanging out with the police officers, and quite frankly, we love hanging out with them. It’s just a great way to interact and, actually, inspire each other.”
When Weidman brought the idea of having a Torch Run in Lima to Martin three years ago, he said it was a “no-brainer.”
“It shows the police in a positive role in the community — not just as an enforcer, but as a partner and as a community member,” he said. “We have a great working relationship already among law enforcement in Allen County, and this is just a great way to highlight that, but in a fun atmosphere, not always going out and doing a roundup of drug dealers or something like that.”
This year’s lineup included the State Highway Patrol, Allen County Sheriff’s Office, Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution, Lima Fire Department, Lima Memorial Health System, and officers from Shawnee and American townships in addition to the Lima Police Department.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.