Flame of Hope passes through county

(California Highway Patrol officer Liz Addy carries the torch along Freedom Boulevard Wednesday during the annual Law Enforcement for Special Olympics Northern California 2018 run across Santa Cruz County. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — The Law Enforcement Special Olympics Northern California Torch Run launched from Watsonville early Wednesday morning and laced its way across the county.

The Torch Run features law enforcement officers from local agencies throughout Northern California, alongside Special Olympics athletes, carrying the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to Davis for the 2018 Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games, which get underway June 22.

Northern California officers fundraise through events throughout the year, including the Torch Run, and have raised more than $13.5 million for Special Olympics Northern California since 1996, including more than $790,000 last year.

“It feels good to out here,” said California Highway Patrol officer Gilbert Corona. “I do this every year to challenge myself and to draw attention to events like the Special Olympics. The CHP takes part in these kinds of fundraisers all year long and I’m glad to be a part of that.”

Watsonville Police sent a crew of about 20 officers, staff and cadets on the first leg of the run, which started at WPD and stretched to the 2700 block of Freedom Boulevard. There, they handed off the Flame of Hope torch to CHP officer Liz Addy and a crew of her fellow officers and staff for the next section of the run toward Santa Cruz.

“I’ve been doing this for about four years now,” said Watsonville Police Capt. David Rodriguez, who ran with the opening group. “At WPD we believe that it is not only our role to help our community but to also reach beyond to groups like Jacob’s Heart, Pink Patches and the Special Olympics to lend a hand. Everyone here enjoys doing this this.”

Agencies involved in the run also included Santa Cruz Regional 911, California State Parks, Capitola Police Department, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Cruz Police, Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, Santa Cruz Probation Office and the Scotts Valley Police Department.

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