Special Olympics torch run begins Tuesday in Chula Vista

CHULA VISTA - Law enforcement officials from throughout San Diego County today will show their support for the Special Olympics by kicking off a nine-day Southern California torch run for this summer's games.
 
The annual Southern leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a torch-lighting ceremony at Chula Vista police headquarters at 315 Fourth Ave., according to organizers.
 
Today and Wednesday, volunteers from more than a dozen San Diego-area agencies will take turns running the torch northward toward its final destination, which will be the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The torch is scheduled to arrive there June 6.
 
Similar runs using other torches are scheduled throughout the country in advance of this summer's Special Olympics, which are being held June 14-21 in New Jersey. A total of 76 athletes and coaches from Southern California are expected to travel to the games to compete in 16 sporting events.
 
The annual torch runs began in Kansas in 1981 as a goodwill event between the officers who run and the communities they serve. Over the years, the runs have grown to include a fundraising arm in which officers who participate collect donations from individuals, businesses and other groups.

The money is then turned over to help offset expenses for the athletes who will compete in the games.
 
Today's portion of the local run will cover 33 miles, from Chula Vista to Torrey Pines. On Wednesday, the run will resume from Torrey Pines and cover about 40 miles as it heads to Camp Pendleton, where U.S. Marines will eventually hand off the torch to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
 
Other local participants in the run include police departments from San Diego, Coronado, San Diego harbor, La Mesa, El Cajon, Escondido, Carlsbad and Oceanside.
 
Also participating are law enforcement representatives from San Diego City Schools, the San Diego Community Colleges District, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol, Border Patrol, FBI, DEA, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Marshal's Service.

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