By Linda Looney-Bond
Clayton County Police participated in the Georgia Law Enforcement Torch Run Thursday to benefit Special Olympics Georgia.
Fourteen officers walked and ran an 8.2-mile course, which began at police headquarters in Jonesboro, and ended at the Home Depot near the Interstate 285 interchange at Jonesboro Road in Atlanta.
"We feel that it's very important, from a public safety perspective, to show the partnership with law enforcement and the Special Olympics," said Deputy Police Chief Gregory Porter. "You see the commitment from the men and women of the Clayton County Police Department. We want to continue our efforts, and I hope that we bring more people into the arena next year," said Porter.
"This is the second year I ran in it," said Clayton County Police Capt. Joe Woodall. "It's all for a good cause, and everybody has a good time doing it. It's a real good thing, every year," he said.
Thursday's run began with the passing of a torch that has been passed across the state by law enforcement officers for the past few weeks, according to Allison Kaczenski, director of special events for Special Olympics Georgia.
"The torch run is our largest fund-raising vehicle, so Clayton County's involvement shows their commitment to the community, as well as to our cause," said Kaczenski.
The torch was passed to Clayton County Police by the Fayette County Sheriff's Office Thursday, and Clayton County Police passed the torch to the Georgia State Patrol.
The final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will take place in downtown Atlanta today, with members of the Georgia State Patrol, the Atlanta Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other agencies from across the state participating, according to Kaczenski.
As part of the culmination of the torch run, during a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol today, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is expected to help light the torch, kicking off the State Summer Games for Special Olympics, Kaczenski said.
On June 11, Special Olympics Georgia will host "Cops and Crabs" at all six metro Atlanta-area Joe's Crab Shack restaurants, according to Clayton County Police Lt. Rebecca Brown.
Police officers, including some from the Clayton County Police Department, will serve alongside the restaurants' waiters and waitresses, and any tips officers collect will benefit Special Olympics, said Brown.
"The Joe's Crab Shack [event] will be our next event, and we'll be doing that statewide," said Kaczenski.
Special Olympics Georgia provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for more than 22,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, according to Kaczenski.