Community Involvement

Across state, CDCR staff pick up the torch to help Special Olympics

Across the state, CDCR employees joined other law enforcement agencies to complete the Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Flame of Hope. It culminated with the opening ceremony at UC Davis for the games of the Special Olympics of Northern California and in San Diego for the Special Olympics of Southern California.

A police car and officers on bicycles escort runners carrying the Special Olympics torch.
RJ Donovan staff participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in San Diego.

Richard J. Donovan teams up with San Diego law enforcement

People run on a highway.
RJD staff run for Special Olympics.

Every year, 1,200 officers and staff from various local, county, state, federal and military agencies participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run final leg. The participants carry the Flame of Hope through 200 communities, about 900 miles, in Southern California.

The final leg ends at the Summer Games opening ceremony, where the torch lights the cauldron as a symbol of the commencement of the games. The event brings awareness to the community of people with disabilities in an effort to promote respect and unity for everyone.

Team RJD was in full force, ready to take on the challenge of the 2019 run on Tuesday, May 28.

The team joined the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, San Diego Police Department-Western, California Highway Patrol, and even a Special Olympic athlete known to the other runners as Calvin. They ran Leg 5 of day one, which began in Old Town and ended at Mission Bay-De Anza Cove.

Large group of people stand beside a Spanish-style red-brick roof building.
Runners stop for a photo.

All athletes geared up in matching tee-shirts and fell into line behind the torch carrier and the flag bearer, while keeping a 12-minute pace. Inter-agency camaraderie was alive and well, as fellow runners encouraged those at the front of the race to move up in position to take the honor of carrying the torch and bearing the flag.

While athletes toward the back encouraged runners to not fall behind and be picked up by the Special Olympic van, which brings up the rear and allows runners to hop in and rest if they fall too far behind.

As the San Diego sun shined bright, everyone had a good time while supporting an even better cause. Warden Patrick Covello and Chief Deputy Warden Joseph Stewart are always quick to take on the challenge and motivate their staff to do the same.

Special Olympics-San Diego region enriches the lives of more than 2,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and RJD was happy to assist in their mission.

Eight people, including three children, pose in tee-shirts and sweat pants.
Staff from California Medical Facility and California State Prison, Solano, joined other law enforcement agencies for the Torch Run.

CSP-Solano staff carry torch

By Lieutenant Deborah Blackwell

hugging of athlete and a correctional officer
A correctional officer hugs an athlete during the torch run.

Law enforcement agencies from throughout Solano County participated in the 2019 Solano County Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. This annual event brought local law enforcement together to show their support for Special Olympics and the athletes who participate in the games.

On Wednesday, June 19, the Special Olympics torch, The Flame of Hope, made its way through Solano County starting in Benicia at approximately 8 a.m. and ended on Thursday, June 20, at approximately 2 p.m. in Dixon.

This year’s run included law enforcement personnel from the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, Benicia Police Department, Vallejo Police Department, Suisun City Police Department, Fairfield Police Department, Solano County Probation, Cal Maritime Police Department, California Highway Patrol, CSP-Solano, California Medical Facility, Travis Air Force Base Security Forces Squadron, Vacaville Police Department, and Dixon Police Department.

The run also included Special Olympics athletes who ran some of the legs as well as participated each time the torch was passed from one agency to another.

Media was invited to cover the annual event and there were many opportunities for photographs of the athletes and law enforcement personnel along the route.

Group of people walking on street
California Medical Facility staff represent at the Torch Run on June 20.

CMF staff carry the torch

By Lieutenant Megan Cherinka

Many CMF staff members from all areas of the institution joined other law enforcement agencies to carry the torch through Vacaville.

Three-photo collage with people wearing "torch run" tee-shirts and two show people standing in front of a wall that says "Welcome to Downtown Ione."
Clockwise from top left are the prison health care CEO Rainbow Brockenborough and her son Haven; the warden’s executive assistant Jennifer Cheney carrying the Flame of Hope, and various staff members ready for the run.

Mule Creek prison staff carry torch through gold country

By Lieutenant Angelo Gonzalez

Mule Creek State Prison staff helped carry the Flame of Hope through the gold country area around Ione on June 14. The team raised $2,000 for the event.

People jog across a street with a sign in the front that says One Way. A police car is nearby.
Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison staff helped carry the torch across Madera County on June 11.

CCWF, Valley State Prison staff carry torch

By Lieutenant Rudy Diaz

On June 11, Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) and Valley State Prison (VSP) joined forces with other Madera County law enforcement agencies to run the Law Enforcement Torch Run in support for Special Olympics Northern California.   

People in uniform and workout clothes hold flags that say Special Olympics Northern California and Low Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Northern California.
CCWF and Valley State Prison staff with Special Olympics athletes.

Prison staff helped the Special Olympics athletes to carry the Flame of Hope across Madera County. The torch run is the largest public awareness platform and fundraiser for Special Olympics. 

Also known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the torch into the opening ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. 

Annually, almost 110,000 dedicated and compassionate law enforcement members carry the Flame of Hope, symbolizing courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe. 

The Torch Run continues to grow each year and other fundraising platforms have been added such as Tip-A-Cop, Fire Truck Pull, and the Polar Plunge.  Since it began in 1981, in Wichita, Kansas, the Torch Run has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs.

Seven people in matching "Torch Run" shirts hold a red banner that says Special Olympics Northern California.
CDCR staff, including Undersecretary Diana Toche, center back, hold the Special Olympics banner on the steps at the Capitol in Sacramento.

Regional prisons, HQ staff converge on Capitol

CDCR staff from area institutions and the department’s headquarters office converged on the Capitol with the Flame of Hope.