Beyond the Badge, Community Involvement

Spring brings 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run season

Runner in torch run for Special Olumpic.
Law Enforcement Torch Run participants ende their four mile run on the west steps of the California State Capitol.

April is Physical Wellness Month and there is no better way to celebrate than kicking off the 2023 Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run season.

California has seen one of the wettest, coldest winters on record but with spring weather finally arriving, it’s time to get outside and soak up that Vitamin D.

Law Enforcement Torch Run carries Flame of Hope across state

Every year law enforcement agencies like CDCR and CCHCS run, carrying the Flame of Hope across California. The run honors their commitment to the Special Olympics athletes and culminates with the summer games.

Participants statewide are committed to supporting inclusion not only for Special Olympics but within their institutions as well. Capt. Marlaina Dernoncourt, with California State Prison, Solano, has been involved with Special Olympics for almost a decade. She is also an Executive Committee Member of Special Olympics Northern California.

“The Special Olympics athletes are amazing and it’s because of your time and generosity they get to participate in sports and leadership events at no cost to their families,” said Dernoncourt.

She hosts a staff and population Torch Run at her institution, providing opportunities to demonstrate inclusion and community involvement.

Learn more in this 2019 video featuring Dernoncourt and the Solano Torch Run.

Meet Capt. Marlaina Dernoncourt, longtime Special Olympics supporter

Recently, Dernoncourt took some time out her busy schedule to answer three questions on why Special Olympics and physical wellness are important to her.

Please tell us a little bit about your involvement with Special Olympics and why it is important to you.

I have been involved with Special Olympics for nine years and have been on the Executive Committee for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for nine years well. From the first Tip-a-Cop I attended in 2014, when I met my first Special Olympics athletes, they immediately stole my heart. After that I wanted to do all I could to support them, raise funds, awareness, and inclusion.

Why is physical activity important to you?

Physical activity is so important. Not only is it good for your physical health but it also good for your mental health as well. Any opportunity I get I try to get outside and go for a walk or hike.  

What advice to do you have for someone who has not participated in LETR previously?

If you haven’t participated in an LETR event whether it be the torch run, a polar plunge, a tip a cop event, or attend a sporting event please get out there. I guarantee you will leave with a full heart, hugs, high fives, and smiles!

Details of LETR

This is the year to join the 2023 Special Olympics LETR season. To start a team, use the links below. Or, if you prefer, join an existing team. We will be sharing a list of all CDCR/CCHCS registered teams in the coming weeks. Not a runner? You don’t have to be! Check out the volunteer/donation opportunities in the links below or talk to the captain of your local team.

Send the registration link for your CDCR/CCHCS team to by e-mail to by Friday, April 28 to be published and shared statewide.