A cluster of Glendale police officers in running shoes stood on their mark — on the corner of Glenoaks Boulevard and Alameda Avenue — and one of them yelled, “Here they come!”
A few blocks away, nine Burbank police officers were jogging toward them, with the front runner clutching a lit torch.
In seconds, Burbank officers handed off the torch to the Glendale team of 13 runners, who were about to embark on their annual 5.5-mile trek through the city as part of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise money for the games.
About a dozen Glendale motor officers hopped on their bikes to follow them and control traffic.
The Glendale torch bearer was Ronnie Moreno, who was running on behalf of the Special Olympics, though he said he’s not competing this year. Moreno said he’s been participating in the run for more than a decade and enjoys waving to people as he carries the torch through Glendale.
“To see his enthusiasm for the event teaches us a lot about determination,” said Glendale Police Lt. and runner Tim Feeley. “His attitude in life is something that inspires us to be better.”
Feeley has been participating in the event for at least half of his 20-year career with the police department.
“We see a lot of negative stuff in society every day,” he said. “It’s really neat to see something this positive as opposed to all the yucky stuff we deal with.”
After his 4.2-mile trek through Burbank, Burbank Police Lt. and runner John Dilibert said the run is nothing compared to what some of the Special Olympics athletes go through every day.
“Every day is a new journey for them,” he said. “We struggle for 45 minutes, but a lot of times, they have to struggle every day.”
Dawna Jurecka, a jailer with the Burbank Police Department and a runner, concurred, adding that she looks forward to the run every year.
“As you’re running, pedestrians on the side all wave and clap, and people in cars honk — it shows the community togetherness,” she said. “It just makes you feel good.”