PicMonkey CollageSMALLLLOfficers from the Benton Police Department will lace up tennis shoes, put on shorts and T-shirts, and run through the city hoisting the Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics of Arkansas on Wednesday. As a way to promote the Special Olympic Summer Games, the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run will begin at 1 p.m. at Saline Memorial Hospital with the route heading down the Interstate 30 south service road to Everett Buick GMC.

Sgt. Lisa Stuart is participating in the event for the 11th year and said the torch run is about much more than running several miles.

“We think we are there doing them a favor, but it turns out they are actually affecting our lives and It's a feeling you want to keep going back for,” she said. “Originally I went along with another officer to see what it was all about, and then went to the Summer Games. When you get there it's like a whole new world. The athletes come up to you and hug and kiss you; they hold your hand and they tell you ‘Thank you’ and it's overwhelming the love you receive from the athletes.”

“Just knowing that your presence can make them that happy and smile that big for just a simple gesture of showing up and showing that you care, that's what keeps me going back,” Stuart added.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a way for officers across the state and country to raise awareness about Special Olympics and to help support their year-round events they host for the athletes. When Benton officers and Special Olympics of Arkansas athletes reach the end of the route, they’ll pass the Flame of Hope to officers from the Bryant Police Department. The final destination for the Flame of Hope will be at Harding University in Searcy, where the Summer Games will kick off on Thursday night.

“The Law Enforcement Torch Run started three decades ago to raise awareness about what Special Olympics stands for and what they mean in communities across the U.S. for the athletes,” said Captain Kevin Russell. “It is something that I've been blessed and extremely proud to be a part of for the past 10 years, and I encourage others to participate in anything involving Special Olympics. It’s inspirational to watch the athletes compete in the games, and their enthusiasm and spirit they bring to everything is truly amazing.”

If you would like to participate in the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run call Sgt. Stuart or Capt. Russell at the Benton Police Department at (501) 778-1171. To make a donation to Special Olympics of Arkansas, visit their website at or call (501) 771-0222.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is held in 50 states and in 35 countries raising $20 million annually and recruiting more than 15,000 law enforcement officers from all over the world. The Arkansas Secret Service is the founding law enforcement agency for Arkansas' Torch Run for Special Olympics. What began as a 30-mile run is now a four day relay that covers more than 1200 miles and 700 runners. All funds raised go towards supporting Special Olympics Arkansas year round sports training and athletic competition.