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The relentless heat couldn’t stop CDCR’s enthusiastic athletes from running miles in support of Special Olympics Northern California (SONC).
The largest public awareness and fundraising event for SONC, the LETR relay race invites employees of law enforcement agencies to carry the “Flame of Hope” torch through Northern California on its way to the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Summer Games.
Supporting Special Olympics is a CDCR tradition. Up and down the state, dedicated staff and incarcerated men and women have rallied to raise money and support for Special Olympics through a variety of activities.
Custody and non-custody staff have put on aprons and served food at Tip-A-Cop events, jumped into freezing-cold lakes and pools for Polar Plunges, and gave their own money and inspired their families and friends to give.
That giving spirit cannot be understated. Last year, CDCR raised $203,000 for SONC, and $204,000 for Special Olympics Southern California.
Joining institution and parole staff in the LETR were several headquarters representatives, including Undersecretary Dr. Diana Toche, who spoke at the LETR ceremony at the state Capitol, the last relay point of the run before ending at the Summer Games. Bringing the torch to light the cauldron at UC Davis were members of the Davis law enforcement community, who ran in honor of Officer Tara O’Sullivan, a longtime Special Olympics supporter who was killed this year in the line of duty.
Let this flame be the symbol of our protective role and convey the strength, courage, and valor that are all the hallmarks of those who serve in law enforcement.
Making a positive difference in the lives of our athletes, their families and our community.
It’s awesome, it warms my heart to see how many people actually support, you know, our children with special needs.
It’s just amazing to see all the support.
We even get support from the inmates raising money, so it’s pretty cool.
Law enforcement is at the core of what makes Special Olympics unique.
Not only do you serve and protect our communities each and every day, but you touch the lives of our athletes more than you can ever know.
When our athletes see you at a torch run, at a fundraiser, or at a competition, they see a friend.
They see a supporter. They see a hero.
Dr. Diana Toche
To listen to the athletes, they say the Special Olympics is the thing that has made a difference in their lives.
It has given them confidence, and the ability to do other things.
I have learned to never doubt myself even when others might.
All these lessons have made me a good athlete, but more importantly, they have helped me be a good employee, a good friend, and a valuable member of the community.
(Honking and sirens)
I just feel like this is a family, like, I feel I have more support.
I can talk to other parents with kids with special needs.
I feel like this opens up a whole new door for us.
Dr. Diana Toche
It just makes your heart so full.
And it’s just the joy and the appreciation from the family and the athletes for the difference you make in their lives.
All right, let’s give them a hand as they’re heading out.