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Law Enforcement Torch Run Makes Its Way Through Santa Barbara County

The fundraising run for Special Olympics Southern California makes stops in the Santa Maria and Lompoc Valleys on route south


The Law Enforcement Torch Run entered Santa Barbara County on Tuesday, with a short ceremony in Santa Maria on its journey south. 

The "Flame of Hope," carried by Santa Maria police and Special Olympians, stopped at Santa Maria City Hall where a $60,000 check representing fundraising efforts from the last year was presented.

The Torch Run provides public awareness and funds for Special Olympics Southern California leading up to the Summer Games this weekend at California State University, Long Beach. 

The year 2018 marks a milestone year for the Torch Run in Southern California, organizers noted Tuesday.

“This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary which is pretty awesome,” said Rudy Gutierrez, Torch Run coordinator in Northern Santa Barbara County. “We’re promoting acceptance and inclusion for all of our athletes and people with intellectual disabilities.”

Twelve agencies in northern Santa Barbara County participated in the event, in addition to fundraising including holding a crab feed, Bull Canyon Run, tip-a-cop dinners and more. 

Santa Maria police Sgt. Nate Totorica said the Torch Run across the globe has raised $675 million since 1981, with money going directly to Special Olympics.

In 2016 the Southern California torch run raised $1.52 million.

“I think that’s a number worth applauding,” Totorica said. 

The donation this year helps support 40 local athletes travelling to the Summer Games this weekend where they will compete in multiple sports.

“You name it, they will give you a run for the money,” Gutierrez said.

Before arriving in Santa Maria, the torch visited Guadalupe where it was carried by members of that city’s Police Department, Fire Department and the Santa Barbara County Probation Department.

As the torch traveled through the Santa Maria Valley, other carriers included Allan Hancock College Police Department, Santa Maria park rangers, Department of Homeland Security and California Highway Patrol.

Torch run Click to view larger
A ceremony at Santa Maria City Hall include the presentation for a $60,000 check from the Law Enforcement Torch Run to Special Olympics Tuesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

From the Santa Maria Valley, the torch traveled to Vandenberg Air Force Base and Lompoc, where another ceremony occurred. 

On Wednesday morning, the torch travels to Buellton and Solvang before entering South County. 

Another ceremony is planned for 1:40 p.m. Wednesday  at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, 1112 Santa Barbara St.

State Park rangers, UCSB police, Sheriff's Department and Santa Barbara Police Department are among others agencies expected to participate in carrying the torch through the county.

At 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, a first-ever Santa Barbara County Women in Law Enforcement team will carry the flame along Carpinteria Avenue at Reynolds Avenue toward the Ventura County line, with residents urged to show up to cheer the runners, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

The women’s team is comprised of officers, professional staff, custody deputies, and county counsel from throughout Santa Barbara County, Hoover added.

In support of the Southern California Special Olympics, the women have raised more than $500.

Donations to the Law Enforcement Torch Run or individual teams can be made by clicking here for North County or clicking here for the South Coast.

By the time the torch arrives at the Summer Games, organizers estimate it will have traveled nearly 900 miles and through 200 Southern California communities. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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