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Tuesday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run on Burnham will support Special Olympics Illinois

LANSING, Ill. (June 1, 2024) — This Tuesday, the Lansing Police Department will participate in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run with Special Olympics Illinois, helping hold up the “Flame of Hope.”

The department, as well as other supporters of Special Olympics including several members of the Knights of Columbus Special Olympics Swim club, will move from the south to north end of Lansing. The run begins at 193rd and Burnham, and goes north to the Little Calumet River.

Different legs of the run are held all throughout Illinois. There is no set time for when the run will begin, depending on the progress of other towns, but participating members are told to be ready as early as 7:45 a.m.

Torch Run raises funds

Historically, special olympians who participate in the fundraiser in Lansing are also part of the Lansing Knights of Columbus swim club. According to Jan Persenaire, who works with the swim team, anyone else who wishes to participate can reach out and be referred to a coach — though this is uncommon. Depending on the number of participants, each athlete will run one block.

The total mileage for the statewide run reaches nearly 1,500, with around 3,000 total participating officers.

“The torch run is the single largest year round fundraising movement for Special Olympics Illinois,” Persenaire said. “It’s just amazing when that torch gets down to Bloomington-Normal. … This week coming up is the week leading up to the Summer Games, and law enforcement personnel across the state carry this torch through all the different towns.”

The run serves as both a fundraiser for Special Olympics Illinois as well as an opportunity to spread awareness about Special Olympics. According to the Special Olympics Illinois’ website, the Torch Run has raised over $70 million since 1986.

torch run
Joe Glowacki proudly trotted the torch north on Burnham Avenue last year. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Raising awareness

For Persenaire, whose 27-year-old-son has previously participated in the run and a swimmer, the event is a chance to spread autism awareness throughout Lansing specifically. For years, Persenaire has pushed for more awareness in the city through holding other events that support Special Olympics, such as Dunkin’ Cop on a Rooftop and the Knights of Columbus annual Christmas party.

“As a parent, I really want to see more involvement with our town,” Persenaire said. “People don’t realize how many kids and adults with special needs are in Lansing. … But when it comes down to Special Olympics, and trying to get your town to help promote things a little bit more for our kids and adults.”

These different events, she says, can also help the swim club take kids down to state. In the past, parents would have to go door-to-door to ask for donations. According to Persenaire, events like the Torch Run shows support for the coaches that are part of Knights of Columbus, in addition to spreading information and support for the many kids and residents with disabilities in Lansing.

“The world needs to wake up — we’re all in this together,” Persenaire said. “That’s a big topic. That’s why I started getting involved with the swim group.”

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Reena Alsakaji
Reena Alsakaji
Reena Alsakaji is a freelance writer and a senior at Munster High School. She is the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s student-run newspaper, Crier. She is also involved in Munster Speech & Debate, Student Government, HOSA, Philosophy Club, and Poetry Club. Over the past two years, Reena has fallen in love with the Lansing community as she watched her mother go through the process of opening up a home decor business on Ridge Road (Cadou Decor). Reena hopes to broaden her coverage all over Lansing. Her favorite story so far is, “South Holland neighborhood group hosts Juneteenth event for hundreds.”

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