Special Olympics torch run underway across the Badger state

Run is organized by local law enforcement officers
Posted at 1:52 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 14:54:51-04
Athletes from across the state will gather in Stevens Point this weekend for Special Olympics Wisconsin's State Summer Games.
But before the games can begin, the torch must be carried to Portage County and cauldron has to be lit. 
More than 30 communities in the Badger State are holding torch runs Wednesday and Thursday. 
They're organized by local law enforcement officers, who run or bike alongside the athletes. 
"The torch run was actually created by law enforcement, and they organize everything in support of Special Olympics," said Kelley Mawhinney, of Special Olympics Wisconsin. 
The run is now in its 31st year. 
Mawhinney said law enforcement is also a major fundraiser for the organization. Officers raised more than $2.5-million for Special Olympics Wisconsin last year. 
George Papachristou, a Chaplain for the Milwaukee Police Department, said the run is a great way for officers to get involved in their communities. 
"Officers always want to give to the community, and this is a great way for them to do that," Papachristou said. "Inside their hearts, they are protectors. They are the watchdogs of society, and this is one great example where they can provide that service." 
All of the torch runs will end in Stevens Point tomorrow for the opening ceremony of this year's games. More than 1,400 adults and children with intellectual disabilities will compete. 
Athlete Cindy Bentley, who's competing in soccer, said she appreciates the effort law enforcement officers put into the torch run each year. 
"I know they have a rough job. They're putting their lives on the line for us," Bentley said. "This shows us they do more than just work as officers. They're trying to make a difference in the community." 
Bentley said, win or lose, she's excited for this weekend's competition. 
"I'm ready to go," she said. "I'm ready to do the best I can. I don't care what place we come in."