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Fairbanks Special Olympic Athletes Run the Torch with Troops

Special Olympics Fairbanks finish line torch holder
Special Olympics Fairbanks finish line torch holder(jameka lache horton)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 9:12 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The sunny weather at Chena Lakes was the perfect backdrop for runners to carry the Olympic Torch in Saturday’s 5K Law Enforcement Torch Run. The 2022 Alaska Law Enforcement Torch Run and Pledge Drive is meant to raise awareness for the Alaska Special Olympics. It happens in 15 communities around Alaska at the same time.

A variation of the Law Enforcement Torch run has been held since 1979. 2022 is the first year as a back in-person event after being held virtually due to the pandemic.

The Fairbanks group saw about 75 participants. They raised just over $6,000 which counted toward the statewide $150,000 goal.

Whether walking, running, or being pushed in a stroller, the athlete’s efforts were rewarded with applause at the finish line. Some first-time runners finished in just under 30 minutes, and shared their reasons why this cause is important to them.

The very first to cross the finish line was an Alaska State Trooper from Tok, Christopher Bitz, who was running in honor of his younger brother who has special needs. ”It just means a lot to me to be able to come out and run with all the people that are out here supporting the Special Olympics today.”

The first place runner of the Special Olympics athletes was Ryker Garcia. After he carried the torch over the finish line he said, “It felt good. I really didn’t care [to be first] but it felt good.”

The Special Olympics World Games athlete to finish in second place was Demiko Colbert. On the subject of sharing sportsmanship, Colbert said, “Maybe me and him [Ryker] can hold the torch together. Maybe next year? How about that way?”

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