Special Olympics athletes from Douglas County and other areas of the state will convene later this week in Wichita for the 2009 Summer Games.
“I’m going to win gold,” said Brady Tanner, 29, a local athlete who will compete in the weight-lifting portions of the contest.
Ahead of the games, 38 local law enforcement officers will participate in one stretch of a statewide torch run, which covers 28 counties over six days.
Between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Police Department and Kansas University Public Safety Office will carry the “Flame of Hope” throughout Douglas County, said Sheriff's Lt. Doug Woods, agency coordinator.
“The three law enforcement agencies come together ... we work as a team for this cause,” he said.
The local officers will run the torch 15.2 miles from the Douglas County Jail, 3601 E. 25th St., north to Kansas Highway 10, west to Louisiana Street, and south to County Road 458, Woods said. The run will continue throughout Lawrence and KU and end in South Park.
The torch run will end Friday in Wichita, when officers will light the cauldron to officially open the athletic competition in front of more than 2,400 athletes, coaches and fans, Woods said. The competition is for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“I am really happy I’m going to it,” said Kody Gray, 12, a local contestant who will participate in multiple events.
Officers are encouraging people to cheer and enjoy the excitement during the torch run. They have been raising money and awareness about Special Olympics throughout the year.
“We’re human beings, like everybody else, we care for people and people with needs,” Woods said. “If we can help them out, then that makes us better people ourselves.”