Officers Carry Torch for Special Olympics

Officers from the Culver City Police Department carried the Special Olympics torch through the city Tuesday as part of a fund-raising effort by Southern California law enforcement officers for the event.

The torch run began at the Mexican border June 15 and will end Friday at UCLA with the opening ceremonies for the competition, which features athletes with mental disabilities, said Michael Fitzpatrick, the event's development manager.

The Culver City officers, some on foot and others on bikes, took the torch from Inglewood officers and handed it off to members of the Los Angeles Police Department.

"It's just as a show of goodwill and community involvement," said Det. Mike Shank, who organized the Culver City run.

More than $115,000 was raised last year by law enforcement officers who solicited donations for their participation in the event, Fitzpatrick said. The officers included Border Patrol agents, police officers, sheriff's deputies, Marines from Camp Pendleton and FBI agents, he said.

More than 1,500 athletes are expected to participate in the Southern California Special Olympics, which will be held at UCLA Friday through Sunday. The athletes have gone through regional qualifying meets to participate.

The Special Olympics, which began in 1968 in Chicago and is held in every state and Canadian providence and in 25 countries, provides year-round sports training for people with mental disabilities, Fitzpatrick said.

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