05/19/13 — Law enforcement carries torch for Special Olympics

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Law enforcement carries torch for Special Olympics

By John Joyce
Published in News on May 19, 2013 1:50 AM

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Special Olympic athletes, from left, Allen Jenkins, 27, Ryan Hood, 32, and Erica Walderman, 29, lead the Wayne County portion of the N.C. Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics Friday. The athletes, lawmen and supporters ran from GPD headquarters to the courthouse in Snow Hill.

Officers and employees of several local law enforcement agencies traded in their tactical gear for track outfits Friday.

The annual 23.5-mile Wayne to Greene County stretch of the N.C. Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics got under way just after 8 a.m.

The torch was carried all the way from the Goldsboro Police Department to the Greene County Court House in Snow Hill.

Members of the Goldsboro and Wayne Community College police departments, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's 4th Security Forces Squadron and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, along with friends, family members and supporters of the Special Olympics, departed the Goldsboro Police Department at 204 S. Center St. on foot.

A police bus and the GPD Mobile Command Unit trailed behind.

"It helps the athletes reach our goals in sports," Special Olympics athlete Ryan Hood said.

The 32-year-old Goldsboro Parks and Recreations employee takes part in the Torch Run and Olympic-style games each year.

Hood carried the lamp oil torch as the pack of runners took off running north on N. John Street headed towards East Ash Street.

Joining him in the lead were fellow Special Olympic athletes Allen Jenkins, 27, and 29-year-old Erica Walderman.

"It's fun, (the officers) do so much for us," she said.

Police cruisers and bicycle cops cleared the route as the runners cycled in an out for stretches at a time.

When rested they ran and when weary the runners rode the bus, all in an effort to raise awareness for the Special Olympics

"We raise money all year long, but the run is strictly to raise awareness," Goldsboro Police Sergeant Dale Foster said.

Foster, along with Investigator Dwayne Bevell and other officers heads up and participates in fundraisers such as Cop on Top and the Flame of Hope Golf Tournament held locally each year.

The date is not yet set but there will also be a fire truck pull in late-August or September, Foster said.

U.S. Air Force Security Forces members Senior Airman Marcia Montoya joined the pack for Friday's run.

She and fellow base cops Senior Airman Joseph Ornells and Airman First Class Ryon Matteson have been participating in events all week long for Police Week, she said.

Police Week commemorates annually the officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Various competitions and community events were held along with ceremonies and remembrances on base.

"We just wanted to hang out with some real police officers," Ornells said.

The runners were also joined by two candidates from the current crop of Wayne Community College Basic Law Enforcement Training students, Kyle Woodward, 27, and Justin Barnes, 21.

"This is our first year running," Woodard said.

Local law enforcement officers, and those across the state work all year long to serve and protect their respective communities, but also form a community themselves.

"It's great, when we all come together like this," Goldsboro Police Chief Jeff Stewart said.

The 2013 Special Olympics North Carolina Summer Games will be held May 31 to June 2 in Raleigh and Cary.