In 1983 The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics was presented to Metro Nashville’s Chief of Police Joe Casey and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics engages law enforcement in championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. Referred to as “Guardians of the Flame”, law enforcement personnel and Special Olympic athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremony of Special Olympic competitions. This flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities.
Dedicating over 38 years to Special Olympics, while serving as Nashville Metro Police Chief for 16 of those; Joe Casey cultivated the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics into the global movement it is today. In honor of Joe Casey’s commitment, Special Olympics Tennessee hosted a statewide Law Enforcement Torch Run for 2021 which covered over 800 miles throughout Tennessee! More than 300 runners from 70 different law enforcement agencies carried the “Flame of Hope” over 800 miles across the state to conclude with the Torch Run Final Leg in Manchester.
On Friday, November 19 the opening ceremony for the Final Leg of the 2021 Torch Run began at 9AM at College Street Elementary School in Manchester. Though the weather was cold and the runners chilled, the warmth of dedicated support was felt
as law enforcement members from across the state joined in the approximately 2-mile run. A motorcade led by Manchester City Police and Nashville Metro motorcycle division escorted the runners as they travelled the town square to Spring Street, turning right on Coffee Street, left on Oakdale Street, right onto Taylor Street and finally left into the Westwood School campus entrance.
A closing ceremony was held at Westwood with speeches by Manchester City Police Chief Mark Yother “Yogi”, key coordinator of the statewide event and retired Nashville Metro Chief Joe Casey, long-time supporter of Special Olympics and pivotal influencer in the growth of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. Joe Casey congratulated the men and women that participated in the event while stating he looked forward to raising even more awareness for Special Olympics during next year’s Torch Run.
For more information on how to donate to the Law Enforcement Statewide Torch Run please contact Jennifer McAfee at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (615) 496-8615.
Thanks to Jess Patterson and Will Rabb for their help with this story