Between 30 and 40 local athletes will be hitting the road Tuesday in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
Local runners will pick up the Special Olympics torch in Lansing and will carry it through Lawrence and on to Topeka, where they will hand it over to Topeka and Shawnee County runners.
The torch is one of eight that will be carried from various locations in Kansas to Wichita, where it will be used Friday to light the Special Olympics flame during opening ceremonies of the state games on the Wichita State University campus.
Lawrence police Sgt. Dan Affalter said officers from the Lawrence and Kansas University police departments will be running Tuesday along with Douglas County sheriff's officers, city government officials, Douglas County District Court Services employees and a representative from the Douglas County district attorney's office. Also taking part will be Bob Frederick, Kansas University athletic director.
Affalter said local officers will pick up the torch about 8 a.m. and plan to hit Topeka about 4:30 p.m.
Participants will run in half-mile increments, with the option of running more than one time.
Affalter said the runners expect to reach Lawrence about noon. The route takes runners south on Kansas Highway 7 to U.S. Highway 24-40, then through Tonganoxie and onto North Lawrence.
Runners will run south across the Kansas River Bridge into Lawrence, where they will snake across the Kansas University campus and take Iowa to Clinton Parkway. They then will follow Douglas County roads west to the Shawnee County border.
The torch run is a fund-raiser for the Special Olympics, a three-day event in which people with disabilities participate in various sports and games.
Officers raise money by accepting donations and selling T-shirts. Affalter said that in the past, the region consisting of Douglas, Jefferson and Leavenworth counties has raised $5,500 to $6,000.
This year, he said, local participants are on line to raise at least $6,000. Part of the reason for the increase, he said, is that officer Don Gardner is trying to become the state's top fund-raiser. The person who raises the most funds receives the honor of lighting the Special Olympics torch.