Members of the Burbank Police Department, led by four developmentally disabled athletes, handed off the Special Olympics torch to their Glendale counterparts Wednesday in a 5.5-mile leg of a ceremonial run to signify the start of the games Friday in Long Beach.
Burbank employees handed off the torch at Glenoaks Boulevard and Alameda Avenue to members of the Glendale Police Department, who passed on the torch to officers of the Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Division.
“Glendale police puts out such a great effort and support for the Special Olympics,” said Kim Bondie of the Tri-Valley Special Olympics chapter.
Bondie drove the special athletes from Burbank to the torch handoff in Glendale.
Ronnie Moreno, a special athlete who represented the Glendale Association of the Retarded, held the torch during the Glendale Police Department’s leg of the run.
Runners from numerous districts in Southern California passed on three torches, covering a total of 1,500 miles.
The runners will unite at Cal State Long Beach Friday for the Special Olympics Southern California 2007 Summer Games for opening day ceremonies.
Special athletes from the Tri-Valley Special Olympics chapter, including Glendale and the foothill region, competes in swimming, basketball, boccie ball, golf, tennis, track and field and gymnastics.
“I think it was wonderful that both stations came together for this event and the response we received from people was great,” said Burbank Police Chief Tim Stehr, who has participated in the run for 18 years.
“People were waving and cheering.”
The police officers completed their torch runs in three hours.
“Every year is special for us,” Glendale Officer Sue Shine said.
Glendale Police Department Crime Analyst Albert Mesa learned about the torch run Tuesday morning, and quickly decided to join a group of runners from the station. “I am running for a good cause and I am really into fitness,” Mesa said.
Mesa was one of 12 Glendale Police Department employees who participated in the torch run.
One of those runners, Glendale Officer Sharon Kim, has assisted in Special Olympics events since she was in high school.
Kim coaches special athletes with their basketball skills.
“They teach you so much about patience,” she said.
Kim said she has learned more about herself since she began working with the special athletes.
“You have to treat everybody the same,” she said.
The Glendale Police Department’s annual Tip-A-Cop fundraiser, which was held at Damon’s in March, raised $3,500 for equipment and travel for the athletes.