CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — This week, the “Flame of Hope” is making its way across the commonwealth to celebrate the Virginia Special Olympics getting back in the game after COVID-19 put a lot of their events on hold last year.
56 people from the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office joined 2,000 law enforcement officers from 200 agencies across the state this week to keep the ” flame of hope burning.”
They’re covering a collective 22,000 miles — one for each Special Olympics athlete. That includes Chesapeake’s own Chad Allen, who often carries the torch in this annual run.
“I rest a little bit and I’m ready to go again. I don’t want to give up,” Allen told WAVY.com.
That attitude also serves him well in competition, where he’s won many of medals in swimming in bowling.
Chad and other Special Olympians knew isolation long before COVID-19. Fundraising events like this are vital to get them back in the game.
Maj. Chris Pascal organizes all of the Special Olympics events with the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office.
“Once you get to know the athletes, there will always be a moment or an encounter that touches you in your heart, and once that happens you’re hooked. You can’t get away from it, you don’t want to get away from it. You look forward to the next event,” he said.
Chesapeake raised around $5,000 and is slowly restarting its local events like “Splash at the Lake” and “Dancing with the Athlete,” which Allen helped create.
Traditionally the torch run ends with the lighting of the cauldron in Richmond to start the summer games.
This year, due to the pandemic, they are hosting smaller regional events.
They will still light the cauldron in Richmond during a virtual ceremony tomorrow, Saturday, June 12 at 2 p.m. You can watch it live on Facebook.