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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Law enforcement officers run to raise Special Olympics awareness

  • People may be used to seeing them in patrol vehicles, but about 60 local law enforcement officers could be seen running the streets of Leavenworth and Lansing on Tuesday morning.
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  • People may be used to seeing them in patrol vehicles, but about 60 local law enforcement officers could be seen running the streets of Leavenworth and Lansing on Tuesday morning.
    The officers were participating in this year's Leavenworth County leg of the Kansas Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise awareness for the Special Olympics.
    Leavenworth County Sheriff Andy Dedeke, who was one of the runners, said almost every law enforcement agency in the county participated in Tuesday's Law Enforcement Torch Run.
    "This has been the largest one we've had in a while," Frank Zink said of the group of runners.
    Zink, a retired lieutenant from Lansing Correctional Facility, is the area coordinator for the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
    He credited the increased size to the first-time participation by members of the military from Fort Leavenworth.
    Military police officers as well as civilians from Fort Leavenworth's Directorate of Emergency Services participated in the run.
    The group of runners also included members of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, Leavenworth Police Department, Lansing Police Department and Basehor Police Department. The Lansing Correctional Facility and Kansas Highway Patrol also were represented.
    Dedeke said members of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office previously participated in the Torch Run. But, this year marked the first time the Sheriff's Office has had an organized contingent of runners.
    Tuesday's Torch Run began around 8:30 a.m. at Lansing City Hall. The runners headed north on Kansas Highway 7 into Leavenworth.
    Once they reached Spruce Street, they turned east to Third Street. They then continued north, ending the run at the Justice Center.
    Dedeke said a torch was carried by a lead runner and was handed off as individuals became tired.
    "I started the run with it," Dedeke said.
    Sgt. 1st Class Eric Woody with the 500th Military Police Detachment at Fort Leavenworth carried the torch as it reached the Justice Center.
    Runners were provided an escort by local law enforcement agencies.
    Dedeke said there were three water stations along the route, and runners had the opportunity to rest in vehicles if they needed to catch their breath.
    Most of the runners dressed in shorts and T-shirts. But, two members of the Leavenworth Police Department, Officers Wade Robinson Joe Gaines, elected to make the torch run in their uniforms.
    Jana Fornelli, senior vice president for development for Special Olympics, said there are about 50 legs of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Kansas.
    They will culminate with a final run Friday in Wichita to kick off summer games for Special Olympics.
    Fornelli said the Law Enforcement Torch Run raises awareness for Special Olympics as well as money.
    Page 2 of 2 - She said some of the runners make donations to purchase Torch Run T-shirts, and many ask for pledges.
    Fornelli said the Law Enforcement Torch Run has become a worldwide tradition, but it started in 1981 in Wichita.
    "Kansas proudly claims we're first to carry the torch," she said.

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