8th MPs partner with Special Olympics to carry the torch

| June 3, 2011 | 0 Comments
Flags representing participating law enforcement agencies stream past cheering Special Olympics athletes during the 25th Annual Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics at Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, May 27.

Flags representing participating law enforcement agencies stream past cheering Special Olympics athletes during the 25th Annual Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics at Les Murakami Stadium, Honolulu, May 27.

Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

HONOLULU — The lights shut off and a thunderous roar engulfed Les Murakami Stadium, as more than a thousand runners bearing torches and flags entered the arena, here, during the 25th Annual Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, May 27.

More than a thousand law enforcement, civilian and military personnel participated in the run, including the 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command — more than 250 Soldiers strong.

“All their life, they’ve been told they ‘can’t do this, can’t do that,’ but when the military comes through the stadium, it completely validates who they are,” said Nancy Bottelo, president, Special Olympics-Hawaii, speaking about the Special Olympics athletes in attendance.

Named after the fallen Honolulu police officer who dedicated his time coaching Special Olympics athletes and his life protecting Honolulu, the Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run is part of a worldwide series of torch runs. The series stretches across all 50 states and 47 nations, and it marks the beginning of the Special Olympics season, while raising nearly $40 million for its athletes.

This year, 25 torches were lit to commemorate the 25 years of the Torch Run, here.

According to Bottelo, the first run only had 20 participants. But from its humble beginnings, the event grew. And when the 8th MP Bde. moved to Hawaii from Korea, bringing nearly 1,000 Soldiers, friendships grew as much as the participation.

As the event gained momentum, deployed units in Iraq and Afghanistan started sending in photos from their own torch runs, taking it to “a whole different level of participation,” Bottelo said.

“It really is a collaboration of all the law enforcement agencies in Hawaii,” said Melissa Blake, director, Torch Run Development.

Being the son of a police officer and an avid runner, Pfc. Jonathan Rhodes, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th MP Bde., knew the Torch Run was something he needed to be a part of, because giving back to the community was in his blood.

“Running surrounded by police officers, fire trucks dousing us with water and the crowds cheering us on, I was excited,” Rhodes said. “When we turned into the stadium, I was moved.”

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