OC police agencies run with Special Olympics athletes to welcome Summer Games

By Thomas Leftwich

Officers from Tustin Police Department on Monday, July 20, volunteered along side athletes who will be participating in the 2015 Special Olympics as they escorted the Flame of Hope to its final destination at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin.

Regarded as the Final Leg, this torch run was one of three happening simultaneously in Orange County that included officers from more than a dozen agencies such as Cypress, Fullerton, Garden Grove, La Habra,Westminster, and Tustin.

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin for a ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin for a ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Summer Games, which will run from July 25 to Aug. 2, consists of 7,000 athletes from 177 countries and is expected to bring in more than a half-million spectators from around the world.

Once the torch was delivered, the closing ceremony was held in the Training Academy’s auditorium. Tustin PD’s Lt. Robert Wright led the beginning of the ceremony in the presentation of colors by the Tustin Police Department’s Honor Guard.

The National Anthem was performed by Tess Fox to a thunderous applause.

Tustin City Mayor Chuck Puckett, Council Member Al Murray and Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano on hand to thank the participants.

“To have such a ceremony in the great city of Tustin is a wonderful honor,” Murray said. “All of our citizens are proud to have you and all your wonderful talents.”

Added Celano: “While at face value we are supporting the Special Olympics, it’s we who receive the real reward. The Special Olympics’ participants inspire all of us to be better, stronger and more motivated in our lives.”

eannie Smith, Law Enforcement Torch Run from Queensland Australia, left, exchanges gifts with Tustin Mayor Chuck Puckett, Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano and Tustin Police Lt. Robert Wright during a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics ceremony in Tustin. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Jeannie Smith, Law Enforcement Torch Run from Queensland Australia, left, exchanges gifts with Tustin Mayor Chuck Puckett, Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano and Tustin Police Lt. Robert Wright during a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics ceremony in Tustin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

A law enforcement officer from Queensland, Australia, Jeannie Smith, traveled to California to be a part of the Special Olympics experience as a volunteer.

“I became involved three years ago when it was in my town and I fell in love with the cause,” she said before presenting Murray with a boomerang. “It wasn’t what I had done that made me happy, but the gift I had received. The gift of being a part of this wonderful organization.”

Multiple track and field gold medal winner and Southern California Native Brett Laza, said he is grateful for law enforcement’s involvement in the Special Olympics.

“Thanks to my many years in the Special Olympics, I have been able to meet many people and make lifelong friends,” he said. “I have worked with many law enforcement officers and they are great support.”

Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano greets Special Olympic Athlete Brett Laza on stage during a torch run ceremony in Tustin. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano greets Special Olympic Athlete Brett Laza on stage during a torch run ceremony in Tustin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Laza then presented a special Challenge Coin to Mayor Puckett.

“I’m sure there is a spot at the City  we can display this coin.” Lt. Wright said.

“Yes. My office.” Murray said, with a smile on his face.

Jay White, an athlete and volunteer with the Special Olympics since 1968, closed the ceremony with his rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, a performance that drew a standing ovation.

Special Olympic Athlete Jay White sings What a Wonderful World on stage at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin during a torch run ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Special Olympic Athlete Jay White sings What a Wonderful World on stage at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin during a torch run ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tustin Det. Pam Hardacre said being involved with the Special Olympics, something she’s been doing 31 years, is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.

“When I first starting working on this this, we had maybe four volunteer officers, now we have too many,” she said. “They’ll run, ride bikes and skateboard with the participants. As long as everyone is having a good time. That’s what it’s all about.”

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather for a photo with Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano, Tustin Mayor Chuck Puckett, left, and Tustin Councilman Al Murray, back row second from right, during a stop at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather for a photo with Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano, Tustin Mayor Chuck Puckett, left, and Tustin Councilman Al Murray, back row second from right, during a stop at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin for a ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Orange County Sheriff Training Academy in Tustin for a ceremony hosted by the Tustin PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

Take a look at photographs from across the county for the final leg of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope run.

CYPRESS 

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics pass Orange County Fire Authority Truck 17 as they arrive at the Cypress Civic Center for a ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics pass Orange County Fire Authority Truck 17 as they arrive at the Cypress Civic Center for a ceremony.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Firefighters from Orange County Fire Authority get ready to raise the American flag up on the ladder of OCFA Truck 17 in preparation for the arrival of the Special Olympic torch to the Cypress Civic Center during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Firefighters from Orange County Fire Authority get ready to raise the American flag up on the ladder of OCFA Truck 17 in preparation for the arrival of the Special Olympic torch to the Cypress Civic Center during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Cypress Civic Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the Cypress Civic Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Interim Chief of Police Rod Cox welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics after arriving at the Cypress Civic Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Interim Chief of Police Rod Cox welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics after arriving at the Cypress Civic Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Interim Chief of Police Rod Cox welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics after arriving at the Cypress Civic Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Interim Chief of Police Rod Cox welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics after arriving at the Cypress Civic Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Torch runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather on the steps of the Cypress Civic Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Torch runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather on the steps of the Cypress Civic Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Torch runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather with the Cypress Police Department, including Chief Rod Cox and Cypress Mayor Rob Johnson, front row, left and right respectively, curing a ceremony at the Cypress Civic Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Torch runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics gather with the Cypress Police Department, including Chief Rod Cox and Cypress Mayor Rob Johnson, front row, left and right respectively, curing a ceremony at the Cypress Civic Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Police Chief Rod Cox, left, gets a chance to hold the Special Olympic torch with Special Olympic Athlete Cody Pierce and Trisha Doranilla, a police officer in Honolulu Hawaii, after the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics runners arrived in Cypress. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Cypress Police Chief Rod Cox, left, gets a chance to hold the Special Olympic torch with Special Olympic Athlete Cody Pierce and Trisha Doranilla, a police officer in Honolulu Hawaii, after the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics runners arrived in Cypress.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

FULLERTON 

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Mayor Greg Sebourn speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Mayor Greg Sebourn speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, left, presents a "I Love Fullerton" t-shirt to Special Olympics athlete Brett Laza during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, left, presents a “I Love Fullerton” t-shirt to Special Olympics athlete Brett Laza during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes speaks during the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015. Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

Members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes take part in the final leg of the Special Olympics torch run in front of Fullerton Police Department headquarters in Fullerton, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Delgado / Behind the Badge OC

GARDEN GROVE 

Garden Grove Police Cadets line the street leading up to the Garden Grove PD headquarters as they prepare to welcome the Special Olympics torch to Garden Grove. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Cadets line the street leading up to the Garden Grove PD headquarters as they prepare to welcome the Special Olympics torch to Garden Grove.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Garden Grove Police Department, including Chief Todd Elgin, left, welcomes runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics as they arrive at Garden Grove PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Garden Grove Police Department, including Chief Todd Elgin, left, welcomes runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics as they arrive at Garden Grove PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin applauds the athletes during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD to welcome the Special Olympics torch. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin applauds the athletes during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD to welcome the Special Olympics torch.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin welcomes the Special Olympics crew during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin welcomes the Special Olympics crew during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Special Olympic Athlete Daniela Brandt holds up the Special Olympics torch with the American, California, Orange County and Garden Grove flags, respectively, behind her during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Special Olympic Athlete Daniela Brandt holds up the Special Olympics torch with the American, California, Orange County and Garden Grove flags, respectively, behind her during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin welcomes the Special Olympics crew during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin welcomes the Special Olympics crew during a ceremony at the Garden Grove PD during the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove PD Officers show their support during a ceremony for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg at Garden Grove Police headquarters. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove PD Officers show their support during a ceremony for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg at Garden Grove Police headquarters.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg crew join Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, left, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Jones Police Chief Todd Elgin and California State Senator Janet Nguyen (red shirt) gather for a group photo as the Special Olympics torch makes a stop at the Garden Grove PD headquarters. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg crew join Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen, left, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Jones Police Chief Todd Elgin and California State Senator Janet Nguyen (red shirt) gather for a group photo as the Special Olympics torch makes a stop at the Garden Grove PD headquarters.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

LA HABRA 

Girls from the Sonora High School Cheer team cheer on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg runners for Special Olympics as they arrive at the La Habra Community Center for a ceremony hosted by the La Habra PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Girls from the Sonora High School Cheer team cheer on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg runners for Special Olympics as they arrive at the La Habra Community Center for a ceremony hosted by the La Habra PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the La Habra Community Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the La Habra Community Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the La Habra Community Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive at the La Habra Community Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics during a ceremony at the La Habra Community Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price welcomes the runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics during a ceremony at the La Habra Community Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the La Habra Police Department arrive at the La Habra Community Center after running with the torch for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the La Habra Police Department arrive at the La Habra Community Center after running with the torch for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Stephanie Lindsay, Superintendent of Police from Kingston Jamaica, left, presents La Habra Mayor Michael Blazey, center, and La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price with a wooden plaque from Jamaica during a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics at the La Habra Community Center. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Stephanie Lindsay, Superintendent of Police from Kingston Jamaica, left, presents La Habra Mayor Michael Blazey, center, and La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price with a wooden plaque from Jamaica during a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics at the La Habra Community Center.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

WESTMINSTER 

One of the official torches burn in the morning air for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

One of the official torches burn in the morning air for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker welcomes the Special Olympics torch during a ceremony at the Westminster PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker welcomes the Special Olympics torch during a ceremony at the Westminster PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive the Westminster Police Department. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Runners from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics arrive the Westminster Police Department.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker welcomes the athletes  during a ceremony in front of the Westminster PD for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker welcomes the athletes during a ceremony in front of the Westminster PD for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster (red shirts), the mayor of Westminster and the crew for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, gather in front of the Westminster PD as the torch makes a quick stop. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster (red shirts), the mayor of Westminster and the crew for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, gather in front of the Westminster PD as the torch makes a quick stop.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker exchanges gifts with runners from the Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics during a ceremony at the Westminster PD. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Chief Kevin Baker exchanges gifts with runners from the Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics during a ceremony at the Westminster PD.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC