Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office holds annual Torch Run

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) held it’s ninth annual Special Olympics Torch Run on the morning of April 20. The run began at the Sheriff’s Office and ended at Publix Super Market in Northlake Village Plaza.

Law enforcement officers begin their torch run for the Special Olympics at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office on April 20. Photo by Richard Marion.

A barbecue was held at the end of the Torch Run in front of Publix, with the Sheriff’s Office offering BBQ dinners for a $10 donation. All funds raised by the Torch Run and BBQ go directly to the Special Olympics of Florida. Sheriff Noel E. Stephen spoke to the crowd gathered at Publix shortly after the torch run concluded.

“I thought I was going to get out of cooking the ribs,” joked Sheriff Stephen, “but evidently that’s not gonna happen. I want to thank everybody for coming out. We have great representation from everybody, between law enforcement, firefighters and everyone, all participating in this event to bring awareness to the Special Olympics in Florida.”

Participants begin lining up for a BBQ dinner prepared by Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen. Photo by Richard Marion.

OCSO Detective Captain Rob Coleman, along with OCSO public information officer Michele Bell, helped coordinate the event.

“This is a fundraising event for the Special Olympics and it’s a great cause,” said Detective Coleman. “Anybody can run, we’d love for the public to be more involved next year. It’s not a morning exercise run, its a slow methodical run so a lot of people can participate. And if they don’t want to run we have this BBQ benefit every year and any member of the public can come out get a rib dinner and have a great lunch while supporting this cause.”

The Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest annual public relations and fundraising event for Special Olympics Florida. Statewide, the participating chiefs, officers, sheriffs, deputies, agents and cadets from virtually every branch of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement, represent a total of over 300 different agencies.

The run had over 70 runners and 100 participants this year from various law enforcement agencies in Okeechobee, including the Okeechobee City Police Department, Okeechobee Fire/Rescue, the Seminole Police Department, OCSO and the Department of Corrections.

OCSO community relations and training deputy Jack Nash thanked everyone in the Okeechobee community who participated in the event.

“The community outpour has been amazing,” said Deputy Nash. “All the citizens who came out today and cheered these athletes on, from the bottom of our heart we thank you. This is one the best events we do here at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.”

Before the barbecue dinners were served, Sheriff Stephen called for a moment of silence to remember the two law enforcement officers in Gilchrist County who died in a senseless shooting on April 19. It was a sobering reminder that all of the law enforcement officers both running and participating in the fundraising event put their lives in danger everyday in service of their community.

Some participants brought home made signs thanking law enforcement for their support of the Florida Special Olympics. Photo by Richard Marion.

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