OCSD runners carry the ‘Flame of Hope’ during the Special Olympics Torch Run

By Lou Ponsi

Participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics never gets old for Orange County Sheriff’s Department Special Officer Jean Tindugan.

Tindugan, who has been participating for at least the past five years, was among more than 30 OCSD sworn and civilian employees who received the “Flame of Hope” from a group of Camp Pendleton-based Marines and then carried the torch 11 miles through San Clemente and Dana Point, before handing it over to Laguna Beach PD.

Runners from the OCSD make their way along Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point during their leg of the Special Olympics Torch Run on May 30. Photo by Lou Ponsi

“This is just amazing,” Tindugan said of the May 30 run. “Once we see the Marines coming and you see them line up and hand the torch over to us, it’s beyond description. It’s something you can do as a human being to make a difference.”

Most of the OCSD participants ran the 5-mile leg through San Clemente or the 6-mile leg through Dana Point.

Dep. Laurel Yoshimoto, a seasoned runner who was participating in her first Torch Run, was among a small handful who ran both legs.

Recruits from the OCSD Regional Training Academy Class 232 run north on El Camino Real in San Clemente as part of the Special Olympics Torch Run. Photo by Lou Ponsi

“I enjoy distance running a lot,” said Yoshimoto, who has participated in the 120-mile Baker to Vegas relay five times. “I like to take bad guys to jail, but to encourage and support kids and adults with special needs to come out and be the best they can is a really cool opportunity.”

The OCSD is among 12 Orange County law enforcement agencies and more than 200 agencies throughout Southern California who run with the torch for nearly 900 miles and through 200 Southern California communities to its final stop on June 8 at Cal State Long Beach for the Special Olympics Summer Games.

Runners from the OCSD make their way along El Camino Real in San Clemente, nearing the end of their 5-mile leg of the Special Olympics Torch Run. Photo by Lou Ponsi

More than 34,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities will participate in the competition, June 9-10.

Along with events such as Tip a Cop and the Plane Pull, the Torch Run serves as a fundraiser for the Special Olympics Southern California.

Fifty recruits from the OCSD Regional Training Academy also participated, with 25 running the San Clemente leg and 25 running in formation through Dana Point.

An OCSD motorcycle escort leads runners along El Camino Real in San Clemente. Photo by Lou Ponsi

Torrance Police recruit Bryan Cornejo, a member of the OCSD Regional Training Academy Class 232, stands with the “Flame of Hope” during the Special Olympics Torch Run. Photo by Lou Ponsi

OCSD Capt. Luke South, left, receives the “Flame of Hope” from recruit Bryan Cornejo. Photo by Lou Ponsi

Runners from the OCSD make their way along El Camino Real in San Clemente, nearing the end of their 5-mile leg of the Special Olympics Torch Run. Photo by Lou Ponsi