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Special run: Police support Special Olympics in torch run

Participants of the LETR pose for a photo in Roadside Park after all the runners and the torch made it to the finish.1 / 2
Jenna Schiller runs the torch in to the finish area at Roadside Park in Hastings. Michelle Wirth / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Hastings Sharks and Hastings Police Department teamed up for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run in the southeast region along with several other organizations June 21. The run benefiting Special Olympics began in Rochester and made its way up to the end point at Roadside Park in Hastings. The total distance traveled was around 93 miles.

The torch run was a kickoff event to the summer games held in Apple Valley June 22-24. After the run, the torch was brought to Eastview High School before the games began.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 in Kansas by Wichita police chief Richard LaMunyon. He thought the run would help law enforcement be active in the community and support Special Olympics Kansas. In 1983, LaMunyon presented the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police and they endorsed the Torch Run.

Deputy Chief David Wilske said that the Hastings Police Department has been participating in the run for more than a decade. There were about eight people from the department who participated in this year's event. Wilske, who used to participate in the Minneapolis run, biked from Red Wing to Hastings.

On the way into Hastings, Wilske said that the participants stopped by Pinecrest Elementary to pick up some participants associated with the Hastings Sharks and they completed the race together.

"The athletes are really excited to be with law enforcement," Wilske said.

In addition, the police department really enjoyed spending time with them too, he said. Near the end of the race, he said that is was great to see support from the community too. As traffic passed the run participants, there were multiple cars honking horns and waving in a celebratory manner, he said.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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