Runners help Special OlympicsA group of 29 people with members from every local law enforcement branch collectively ran 29 miles Thursday for an event they hold near and dear. “I’m a big supporter of Special Olympics, it’s one of the things I do,” said Ben Kennelly, trooper with the North Dakota Highway Patrol. “It’s a good time especially when you get this many people together.”
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A group of 29 people with members from every local law enforcement branch collectively ran 29 miles Thursday for an event they hold near and dear.
“I’m a big supporter of Special Olympics, it’s one of the things I do,” said Ben Kennelly, trooper with the North Dakota Highway Patrol. “It’s a good time especially when you get this many people together.”
Kennelly participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics for the sixth time Thursday.
At this year’s torch run there were officers from the patrol, Stutsman County Drug Task Force, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Jamestown Police Department, James River Correctional Center, Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office and Stutsman County Correctional Center and local parole and probation officers.
“There’s probably not a better feeling then seeing those kids accomplish their Special Olympics goal,” said Frank Conlon, a county correctional officer and former high school football and track coach.
Conlon is an experienced runner and he hoped to put in 10 miles along Interstate 94 before having to get back to work to conduct a prisoner transport.
“It’s for a great cause — Special Olympics,” Conlon said.
Law Enforcement has been involved with the Special Olympics on a national scale since 1981. Since then it’s become the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics locally and nationally, said Katie Allen, director of special projects for North Dakota Special Olympics.
Each community that participates in the run has different distances to run. In Grand Forks law enforcement took a 2-mile run through downtown. In Minot the run was 16 miles. Jamestown has a 29-mile run, meeting with Valley City law enforcement for the final 15 miles.
Allen said more than 500 athletes from 11 North Dakota cities will turn out for the event Friday and Saturday at Fargo Davies High School.
Sports include track and field, power lifting, volleyball, Bocce ball and swimming along with basketball, which is a separate Special Olympics event held in March.
“They get so excited and they feel a sense of achievement and it grows a lot of confidence during an opportunity they otherwise might not experience in,” Allen said.
On Friday after athletes compete there will be a dance for them followed by ice cream and fireworks at 9:15 p.m. This is part of the 40th anniversary of Special Olympics in North Dakota, Allen said.
Deputy Jason Falk with the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office partook in the run for the first time Thursday. He hoped to cover four miles.
“It’s a great way for us to change up what we do on a day-to-day basis and do something positive,” Falk said.
Trooper Josh Rude of the patrol helped organize the event this year. He said five law enforcement officers from Valley City met the group outside of Valley City.
He said the turnout was great and next year he hopes to get involvement from community members.
“I think it’d be fantastic if the community could show up and buy a T-shirt and make the run,” Rude said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org