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News: Henderson Hall lends legs to Special Olympics torch run

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Henderson Hall lends legs to Special Olympics torch run Brian Parker

Prior to runners taking off on a Law Enforcement Torch Run supporting the Special Olympics, Headquarters & Service Battalion, Henderson Hall commanding officer Col. Ira M. Cheatham holds the just lit torch aloft with Special Olympics athlete Rose Plesko. Photo By Shannon Giles.

By Michael Norris
Pentagram Assistant Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. - The last leg of the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Relay Run took off from the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 6 on its way to Richmond, Va., for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games the following day at the University of Richmond.

More than 200 law enforcement agencies from across the commonwealth participated in the eight-day, 1,900 mile relay run, calling attention to Virginia Special Olympics athletic competitions and year-long training held for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

This is the 28th year of the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run. Since last year, participating police officers across the state have raised more than $1 million for Special Olympics Virginia.

Marines and civilians from Headquarters & Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall participated in the run, with Commanding Officer Col. Ira M. Cheatham and Battalion Sgt. Maj. Craig D. Cressman leading 30 volunteers from the memorial site to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and back. Other runners continued down through Alexandria, Marine Base Quantico and then on to Richmond, passing the torch to different groups of runners along the way.

1st Sgt. James T. Russo from Marine Barracks Washington ran with his wife Jennifer Russo of Henderson Hall’s Marine Corps Family Team Building. The couple has a 5-year-old daughter with autism.

The first sergeant said the couple participated to “raise awareness” for the athletic competition. “I hope one day our daughter can do the Special Olympics,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out there and represent the Marine Corps,” said runner Capt. James Palis, H & S Bn. Company executive officer. “It lets people know that we do more than just fight wars. We’re out there helping the community.”

Officers from police departments in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier counties participated in the run, with Tim Fields of the Fairfax County Police Department singing the national anthem at the kick-off.

Cheatham took part in the opening ceremonies, holding the “Flame of Hope” aloft with Special Olympics athlete Rose Pleskow when the torch was lit by Ellen Head, director of development for the Special Olympics of Northern Virginia.

Before leading Marines in a run with the torch, Cheatham told the gathering how he worked helping the Special Olympics back when he was a Boy Scout.

“You should all feel good about yourselves,” he told the assembled runners. “We’re fortunate to be able to give something back.”

“It’s for a good cause,” Cressman said after Henderson Hall runners looped back to the memorial. “We teamed up with the police departments — crowd fighters and war fighters together — to do something good for the community. We felt obliged since the event started at our memorial.”


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This work, Henderson Hall lends legs to Special Olympics torch run, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:06.06.2013

Date Posted:06.17.2013 09:28

Location:ARLINGTON, VA, USGlobe

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  • There are many events these days to help raise money for charity. One such event is the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, started in 1981 by a Kansas police chief who wanted to raise money and increase awareness of the Special Olympics. Soon afterward the International Association of Chiefs of Police officially adopted the Torch Run and gave it its current name.
  • During the joint services Special Olympics Torch Run on Oct. 26th, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Raymond Schultz, 247th Military Police Detachment, office of the Military Police Investigations, carried the torch leading close to 130 military service members representing all law enforcement agencies on island. All soldiers who participated carried the torch from Torii Station to Kadena Air Base.
  • More than 900 runners from law enforcement agencies around the state of Hawaii carried a torch for the Special Olympics Hawaii athletes to Les Murakami Stadium at the University of Hawaii, May 25.
  • The ceremonial torch for the Washington Special Olympics has found its way to Afghanistan.

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