Last Thursday, the San Gabriel Police Department participated in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run to support the Special Olympics of Southern California. A nationwide event that began in 1981, the annual run has raised over $600 million in support of the Special Olympics, connecting over 97,000 law enforcement officers together to carry the “Flame of Hope” into local opening ceremonies. For the San Gabriel Police Department, participating in the run has become a yearly tradition designed to engage with the community and to benefit a special cause. “The Special Olympics and our participant role as ‘keepers of the flame’ for portions of the annual torch run are very special in the hearts and minds of our folks here at the police department,” Chief Eugene Harris said. “We are very proud of our association with this group and this event.”
Officer Gilbert Magana spearheaded the San Gabriel Police Department’s participation in this year’s run, noting that he had an especially personal connection with the event due to his previous involvement with individuals with disabilities. “Prior to becoming a police officer, I used to work with people with developmental disabilities,” Magana said. “The fact that these individuals go out there and give it their all is inspiring.”
While the San Gabriel Police Department has participated in the annual run in the past, this is the first year that the department has sought the active participation of local Special Olympics athletes to run alongside the department. “Some were in wheelchairs and some were in walkers, but there were athletes that ran the entire 3.5 mile distance with us after having run with the El Monte Police Department and a leg with the Sheriff’s Department,” Magana said.
The 3.5 mile run – which stretched from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department - Temple City Station to the 10 Freeway at Del Mar Avenue – allowed the San Gabriel Police Department to pick up the torch from the LASD and transfer it to members of the Monetary Park Police Department. This interagency comradery – crucial to the success of the Law Enforcement Torch Run – created a regional link that ran from the Chula Vista Police Department to South Los Angeles branch of the California Highway Patrol. Other legs in the region included a northern route and a central route that both span across Southern California.
Indeed, despite the torch run’s vast distance, every participant remained committed to the single goal of supporting the Special Olympics and its athletes. “Everyone knows someone with a developmental disability which makes the annual torch run such an important cause,” Magana said. “We were all in agreement that this is something worth uniting for.”
For more information, including ways to get involved, please contact Officer Gilbert Magana at 626.308.2853 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.