05/24/11 — Officers help cary Special Olympics torch on run

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Officers help cary Special Olympics torch on run

By Gary Popp
Published in News on May 24, 2011 1:46 PM

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Special Olympic athlete Jay Zambelli holds the Special Olympics torch with Goldsboro police investigator Dwayne Bevell at the start of the Torch Run Friday.

Achy muscles. Sweaty T-shirts. Smiles.

That was the scene at the Greene County Courthouse around noon Friday as a group of about 40 runners finished a nearly 23-mile run that started hours earlier at the Goldsboro Police Department.

The run was part of the Special Olympics North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run.

While the Torch Run includes all fundraising efforts of law enforcement officials across the state, groups also gather to pound the pavement in actual runs to raise awareness.

The Goldsboro to Snow Hill run was one leg of 15 runs taking place throughout the state between May 5 and June 3 by law enforcement agencies.

All runs lead up to the Special Olympics Summer Games that kick off on June 4.

The runners included members of the Goldsboro Police Department, Wayne County Probation and Parole, Seymour Johnson's Security Forces and Office of Special Investigations, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Wayne County Community College law enforcement students and Maury Correctional Facility officers.

The group had the honor of carrying a real torch with an actual flame that was proudly passed among the runners leading the group.

The same torch is used in all of the runs taking place across the state.

"Drivers see us running and see us with the torch, so people know what we are doing," Goldsboro police Investigator Dwayne Bevell said. "We made a pretty big spectacle going down Wayne Memorial.

"We had a great time," Bevell said. "Everybody was motivating each other. Everybody enjoyed the run and mixing with the athletes. Different agencies intermingled, and the overall camaraderie was great."

While the run is one of the few Torch Run events that does not raise money, it's still an important part of the program for lawmen and athletes.

"The run is something we do for awareness," Bevell said. "It serves as the culmination of a county's efforts and recognizing the athletes."

Special Olympics athlete Ryan Hood, 30, of Goldsboro, was one of several athletes who took part in the run.

"It is a whole lot of fun. Just being with friends and most of all Dwayne Bevell," Hood said. "He's my buddy."

A bus drove near the rear of the pack of runners the entire way, giving some a chance to rest and refuel.

Special Olympics athlete Alan Jenkins, 25, of Grantham, has been entering athletic events since he was a child.

"I am here to show my support back to our law enforcement," Jenkins said. "Seeing them out here running today, it puts a smile on my face. When we are running, they are right there behind us, cheering us on, saying, 'Don't stop. Keep going. Keep going.' And I love it when they cheer us on like that.

"We are like a big family."

Tech Sgt. Randy Mello from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was one of many airmen who joined the run this year.

"We wanted team cohesiveness," Mello said. "We wanted to build a team, and blend it with the Goldsboro Police Department and have a real nice morale building team."

Goldsboro police Sgt. Karl Rabun said he ran to help show his support for Special Olympics as he does throughout the year.

"The cause is just unbelievable," Rabun said. "The state has cut their funding and they need every bit of help they can get to help raise money for these kids.

"We do several different fundraisers with them and we get to spend some time with them and we try to do everything we can because this is all about them. We are doing everything we can to accommodate them just to help them feel as special as they are."

The Goldsboro Police Department has raised more than $9,000 since February for the Special Olympics through events such as "Tip-A-Cop" held at La Paz restaurant, "Cop on Top of a Doughnut Shop" at Krispy Kreme earlier this month, and the sale of T-shirts and hats.

The last big fundraiser the police are organizing for the year is a golf tournament at Lane Tree Golf Course on June 2. There is still time for any group or business to sign up. Businesses can also show their support by sponsoring a hole, from $150 to $800.

For additional details, contact Bevell at 919-580-4243.