ITHACA, N.Y. — Dozens of local first responders and supporters turned out for the 4th annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Wednesday afternoon, trekking about three miles through the city to raise awareness and funds for the organisation.

Runners from IPD, Bangs Ambulance, New York State Police, Cornell University, Horseheads Police Department, and other organizations, met in front of the Ithaca Police Headquarters before running uphill on West Clinton Street, turning into the Ithaca Commons and continuing past Ithaca High School toward Stewart Park. Special Olympics athletes met officers throughout the run and finished it at the large pavilion in the park where food and music awaited them.

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For Special Olympic athletes Tae Hemsath and Kinsey Henry, both of whom have been to the Special Olympics to compete in snowshoeing events,the annual run is an opportunity for the community to come together.

Henry said, “It shows that we can still come together as one community, and we don’t have to divide (based upon) our differences…we can just come together and have fun.”

The two women train together sometimes throughout the year to compete in the Special Olympics and partake in athletic competitions. They both said that events like the torch run helps fund the Special Olympics and there’s always more to hope for. For instance, both athletes have ridden horses but there is not he funding or resources available to compete in in equestrian competitions in the games.

“I want to ride horses,” Henry said.

This year, the local Law Enforcement Torch Run raised $3,000 for the Special Olympics. Over a more than 30 year period, police agencies have raised$600 million for Special Olympics programs on a national level.

The run happens every year from May to June, concluding at the  Opening Ceremonies at Special Olympics New York’s State Summer Games. The games are happening this ear in Loudonville, New York, near Albany.

Below are photos of police officers and athletes at the Law Enforcement Torch Run Wednesday. All photos by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice

For more information about the Special Olympics New York, click here.