M. Terry / SFVS

San Fernando Police Department (SFPD) officers and other officials all put their best foot forward in support of the Special Olympics of Southern California.

Joined by Los Angeles School police, Department of Motor Vehicle investigators, and Special Olympics athletes, they all ran through 1.8 miles of City streets on Wednesday, June 7,  carrying the “Flame of Hope,” the torch that will be used to light the ceremonial cauldron for the summer games that will take place June 10 and 11 at Cal State Long Beach.

More than 1,100 athletes from around the Southland are expected to take part in the Games, which are now in their 17th year. They will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals and ribbons in six summer sports, including aquatics, basketball, bocce, golf, gymnastics and track and field.

Admission to the games is free (unless otherwise noted) and open to the public. The opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m., and the competitors begin at noon.

“We’ve been doing this for three years now and it’s been a great event,” SFPD Chief Tony Vairo said. “We get a lot of people involved from the department — officers and civilians. This is to support the Special Olympics. We get more and more involved with it every year.

“It’s a great feeling to help out. It shows us we’re not above anybody. This event has been dear to all of us.” 

Pockets of residents and other onlookers braved the “June Gloom” overcast temperatures to watch nearly 30 runners — doubling the number of participants in last year’s torch run — take off from O’Melveny Street Elementary School after receiving the flame from a group of runners from the LAPD Mission Division.

They raced past the San Fernando City Hall and Courthouse, came through the San Fernando Mall, and finished at Rydell Automotive, where the torch was handed off to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division Team to resume the torch’s trek to Long Beach.

The SFPD contributed more than sneakers and blisters to the event. It also raised a total of $8,000, through sponsors and the department’s Tip-A-Cop event, to donate to the games.

The department’s contribution is part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run,

which has representatives in all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces and 46 nations with 97,000 officers around the world, raising more than half a billion dollars since its inception in 1981.