Law enforcement is a big part of the Special Olympics here in Wisconsin, and Thursday the bond becomes closer with the lighting of the torch at the opening ceremonies.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the event to celebrate the year of fundraising efforts by police officers for the Special Olympics.
John Boyer, the State Director of the Torch Run, says, "In Wisconsin we have a year round effort where we conduct fundraisers such as our polar plunges, our rooftop challenges at Shopko."
Others include various sporting events throughout the year.
Boyer says the purpose is to raise awareness for athletes who spend so much time practicing and preparing for their events, and the torch run is responsible for a significant chunk of the Special Olympics funding.
He says, "Right now the torch run funds approximately 25 percent of the total budget for Special Olympics."
There are seven different locations throughout the state where the torch run comes from. We caught up with the leg coming from Rhinelander going through Merrill and Wausau.
"There's a number of officers that will sign up for portions, depending on their ability, and we do cover all the miles from the staring points throughout the state."
So it's appropriate that an event to support the Special Olympics would involve exercise, because that's what the athletes have been doing for months.
Yee Xiong, a Special Olympics Athlete, says, "We run, and we run with the coach, and we do games."
And hopefully all the hard work will pay off for the law enforcement in their fundraising and for the athletes in their events. All seven of the torch runs meet up in Stevens Point for the opening ceremonies Thursday night; there are about 500 to 600 police officers participating in it.