Torch Run History & Information


Upcoming Torch Run Events

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics. It all began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw a need to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics and came up with the idea of the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement with the community and Special Olympics athletes.

After three successful runs in Kansas, LaMunyon presented the idea to the International Association of Police Chiefs. With the IACP’s endorsement, the idea was launched nationally and today involves law enforcement personnel in all 50 states and 25 countries throughout the world.

The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run is to raise funds for and awareness of the Special Olympics movement. Special Olympics is a program which reaffirms the belief that, with hope and dedication, we can see achievement and self-worth realized by any individual. Persons with intellectual disabilities, by their involvement in Special Olympics, show the community at large there are no limits to human potential or the human spirit.

Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members alongside Special Olympics athletes carry the Flame of Hope into Opening Ceremonies of competitions at local, state, national, regional and international levels. There are over 97,000 law enforcement members that carry the “Flame of Hope” each year. The flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.

The Torch Run has grown over the years and now includes many fundraising platforms. These platforms include: Cops on Rooftops, Tip-A-Cops, Polar plunges, Plane Pulls, and more. Since the beginning, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised over $600 million for Special Olympics programs.

As retired Chief Richard LaMunyon once said, “What started in 1981…as a flicker of hope for Special Olympics has now become a roaring flame of stability for Special Olympics athletes worldwide.” LETR is changing the future for people with intellectual disabilities. Through the LETR and Special Olympics partnership we are lighting the way for acceptance and inclusion.