Carrying the 'Flame of Hope'

After losing 29 pounds due to a month-long battle with depression, Ronnie Moreno was eager to get his energy back to participate in Wednesday’s annual run in honor of the Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games this weekend.

Moreno, a Glendale resident and client at the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded, said he had been struggling to eat a solid meal because he was depressed. But participating in the annual torch run relay — which spans cities across the region — has helped Moreno, 50, take his mind off his depression and focus on his jogging, he said.

Moreno, who has participated for 13 years in the jog, was selected as Glendale police's anchor for the run.

“I have been doing this for a long time,” he said. “I think I’ll make it on the streets.”

Moreno accepted the “Flame of Hope“ torch from Burbank police officials and then joined a group of 11 Glendale police officers and staffers who jogged 5 miles on city streets.

More than 300 police agencies participated in the torch run, which began May 31, to help kick off the start of 42nd Summer Games on Saturday in Long Beach.

Three torches are carried for the summer games. One torch started off in Chula Vista, the second began in Wilmington and the third in Paso Robles, according to Special Olympics Southern California.

More than 5,000 athletes will participate in aquatics, track and field, basketball, bocce, golf and gymnastics during the games. Top athletes are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals.

The Glendale Police Dept. has hosted fundraisers, including Tip-A-Cop, throughout the year for the nonprofit Olympic organization, Officer Sue Shine said. At this year’s Tip-A-Cop event in April, police officers raised $1,700 for serving meals to diners at BJ’s Restaurant.

Glendale and Burbank police work closely together to ensure the annual jog goes off without a hitch.

“It’s our way of really giving to the community and all of these partnerships are what public service is all about,” interim Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said.

Los Angeles police officers handed a similar torch to Burbank officers just after 1:30 p.m. at Riverside Drive and Clybourn Avenue.

Burbank officers then headed east on Riverside Drive to Olive Avenue, then onto First Street to Orange Grove Avenue.

Burbank Police Capt. Ron Caruso ran alongside his wife, Jodi, son Michael and nephew Dylan Fields during the run. It was the third run for Caruso, who participated in the past as motorcycle escort.

Caruso and his family said they are inspired by the athletes’ courage.

“We want to show our support and try to encourage them to keep doing what they are doing,” he said.

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