All who are interested are encouraged to participate in the second annual local Law Enforcement Torch Run on behalf of Special Olympics Michigan on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

“We are encouraging anyone and everyone to come out and help raise money for this cause, even if they can only make a $5 donation,” said Jeff Vander Kooy, a Campus Safety officer at Hope College who is organizing the event with Scott Evans, who is also a Campus Safety officer at Hope.  “Any money raised will go 100 percent to Special Olympics Michigan.”

The 2.6-mile run will begin at 10 a.m., and will start and finish at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse on the Hope College campus.  Registered participants will have an opportunity to win prizes including gift cards for Biggby Coffee, Gazelle Sports and Subway; merchandise from the Hope College Bookstore; season passes for Hope games (excluding the Hope-Calvin men’s basketball game); and a free night’s stay at the college’s Haworth Inn and Conference Center.  In addition, the college’s football team is donating football t-shirts to any Special Olympics athlete that participates.

Vander Kooy and Evans had also organized the first run last year.  In addition to members of the college’s Campus Safety staff, the event will include representatives of Holland Public Safety, the Zeeland Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

The event is being held as part of the national Law Enforcement Torch Run campaign, which was established on behalf of the Special Olympics in 1981 in Kansas.  Grass-roots programs now take place around the world, with activities including community runs such as the Sept. 12 Holland/Hope event, long-distance relays that might span hundreds of miles, a variety of other awareness-building and fund-raising efforts, and connecting with Special Olympics initiatives such as the Summer and Winter Games.

Although the Sept. 12 event is a run, it’s not a race.  Carrying the Special Olympics torch with them, the participants will travel at a pace that allows everyone to stay together.  Those who would feel more comfortable biking may bring their own transportation to ride instead.

Registration is $25, and all who are interested in participating may register and learn more at  Registration will also take place on-site beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 12.  Registration includes a t-shirt, although a limited number of shirts will be available during on-site registration.