Special Olympics Torch Run Moves Through Roanoke

Roanoke, Co., VA - Police officers around the state are making the trek to Richmond for the Special Olympics this weekend.

Over eight days, more than 2,000 volunteers will run through dozens of communities.

The torch run is part of a 32-year-old international fundraiser called The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

There's no shortage of kids, like Katherine Hale, who desperately need the camaraderie of the Special Olympics.

"That's exactly what it's about. That's the reason we're all here today. All the individuals from public safety come out. Our whole goal and purpose is to run for individuals, like Katherine, to support them and bring awareness to Special Olympics," said Officer Joseph Orange with the Roanoke County Police Department.

Hale has already made the trip to the Virginia Special Olympics in Richmond twice, with a third trip coming up. This is the first time Katherine will get to run with the torch.

"They see it; if they don't know what it is they question what it is and then it brings more awareness," said Katherine's Mother Stephanie Hale.

Shutting down one side of Electric Avenue, for about a half an hour, should help get the word around.

"We want to get the word out there. We want people to ask questions and ask us what we're here for because we want all the support the community can pass over for us," said Orange.

Getting the word out is what allows people like Katherine to continue living their dreams.

"The boost in confidence. The sense that they are part of something extra special. It's just a boost to their confidence," said Hale.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the single biggest fundraiser for the non-profit organization. In 2011 alone, the effort raised more than $42 million.

This year's Virginia games will take place at the University of Richmond on Friday and Saturday.