Story and photos by Larry Vogel
The Edmonds Police Department joined with law enforcement agencies across Washington state Friday to participate in the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, part of the opening events for this weekend’s Washington State Special Olympics games.
Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan was on hand to cheer on and support the group. “We look forward to this every year,” he said. “It’s so heartwarming to help kids who might not otherwise be able to participate in such an event.”
Edmonds police were joined by officers from Mountlake Terrace and Mukilteo, and staff from the 911 call center. Edmonds police officer Kraig Strum received the torch from the Lynnwood Police team at 212th Street, and along with the rest of the Edmonds runners carried it 2.27 miles along Highway 99 to the county line, where they met the waiting team from Shoreline.
In a very special moment, Strum passed the torch not to a fellow police officer but to eight-time Special Olympian Scott Nichols.
Scott, a junior at Edmonds-Woodway High School, has won Special Olympics medals in soccer, track, basketball and bowling. This year his basketball team won the state championship. He is the nephew of King County Sheriff’s Department Captain Scott Strathy, who is based out of the Shoreline precinct. “Scott is one heck of an athlete,” Strathy said. “I couldn’t be more proud to see him carrying the torch in today’s run.”
The Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, a statewide event, comprises three routes originating at the Canadian border, the Idaho border and the Olympic Peninsula. Along each route, teams of officers and other local law enforcement personnel run two- to four-mile sections, passing the torch at the end of each leg to the next group. All three routes meet at the Lakewood Police Department, where the last runners from each leg simultaneously light a single torch, which is carried by a Special Olympics athlete into the arena at Joint Base Lewis McChord. This athlete then officially opens the games by using this torch to ignite the “Flame of Hope” that watches over the Washington Special Olympics.
“Special Olympics is the chosen charity of law enforcement worldwide,” said Dan Wartelle, spokesperson for Washington Special Olympics. The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1975, and is one of many events put on by police to support this cause.
“I’m proud that this year our Washington state law enforcement agencies have raised more than $800,000 to help support our Special Olympians,” he added.
Chief Compaan summed it up for Edmonds. “I can’t think of a better event to be involved in,” he said. “It’s a very special honor for us and for Edmonds to have it passing right through our community.