KINGMAN - Runners and bicyclists with the Kingman Police Department and the Arizona State Prison-Kingman kicked off the first leg of the Arizona Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics at Centennial Park Monday.
The volunteers were without the actual torch after it was lost in transit, but it was expected to arrive in time for the second leg of its journey through Page on its way to Mesa for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics this weekend.
Volunteers from KPD and the state prison ran from Centennial Park down Harrison Avenue and Andy Devine Avenue and were joined by athletes from the Route 66 chapter of the Special Olympics at the Powerhouse.
The run then continued across Route 68 to Davis Camp, where volunteers with the Department of Public Safety will take over the run to Lake Havasu City.
The lack of a physical torch didn't deter the spirit of the run for the Kingman volunteers.
"We carry it in our hearts," said one corrections officer from the prison who was biking with the convoy.
The runners in Kingman were Det. Gabe Otero and Valerie Hopper, wife of KPD patrol officer Evan Hopper. They were joined by bicyclists Roberta Candelaria, Shawn Spear, Robert Cole and Kayla Schoonover from the state prison.
Additional volunteers included coordinator Officer R. Silva, Marilyn Levak, Wayne Harden, Lonnie Taylor, Harley Pettit, Shirley Mathe, Jeff Mathe and David Morrison for KPD, and Vickie Martinez and coordinator Ricky Eyestone for the state prison.
Athletes from the Route 66 Special Olympics joined the run on Andy Devine Avenue just outside of the Powerhouse. They included John Scott and Danah Wilson, and four athletes making the trip to the games in Mesa, including Chris Leinweber, Donna McElroy, Teresa Huizenga and Doris Mar.
Route 66 head of delegation Carla Engstrom said fundraisers such as the torch run sponsor the athletes' transportation to the games, as well as their hotel and meal costs.
Inmates from the state prison made an impressive wooden Sesame Street playhouse, which was raffled off as part of the event. Assistant Deputy Warden David Lee's name was drawn as the winner. He said he'll give the playhouse to his grandchildren.
More than $1,000 was raised as part of the playhouse raffle and an additional $1,200 was raised during a cosmic bowling event at Cerbat Lanes earlier this year.
The Arizona Law Enforcement Torch Run is in its 25th year and has raised more than $6,000,000 for the Special Olympics.
For more information or to make a donation, contact Officer Silva at the Kingman Police station at 753-2191, or Carla with Route 66 Special Olympics at 303-0773. All donations are tax deductible.