Today, we're asking you to virtually run/walk/drive/cycle or simply donate to the Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits Special Olympics. It is organized locally by Columbus Division of Police K-9 Officer David Jones, whom many of you know as a huge supporter of Starfish. He has participated in every event we've had since he found out about our charity in June of last year, when he allowed our president, Nicole Banks, to do a ride-along with him and his partner, K-9 Ayko. He participated in Cops and Barbers 2019, was one of the four officers who did the very first Books & Badges event, he handed out our gift bags to the homeless on Christmas Day, was the guest speaker at our January meeting, and organized the recent (and very popular) K-9 Week for Virtual Books & Badges on the CPD Facebook page.
The LETR benefits Special Olympics, and Ofc Jones has devoted his time to it since 1997. Every year the LETR starts on a Monday, with legs being run all over the state and meeting on the last Friday of June in Columbus. Since 2012, Ofc Jones has been the coordinator for the final leg of the Run. He and a group of his fellow CPD officers would run from OPTA, which is in London, Ohio to the OSP Post in West Jefferson, a distance of 13 miles. This was to show support for the Madison County Special Olympics athletes. They would then drive to the Kroger on Cemetery Road in Hilliard and run a short 2-mile leg with the athletes from Hilliard. In the evening, runners from all over the state would meet at the State Highway Patrol Academy for the final leg.
At this point, we'll let him tell the story: "I would coordinate all the Police Bike Units, Motorcycles, Freeway Patrol, Mounted Unit, Helicopter, and CPD Recruits to get us to Jesse Owens Track and Field stadium, a 3-mile run. The athletes from all over the State of Ohio would be in the stadium as we would run in as a group, around the stadium giving the athletes high fives and form a cordon for the lighting of the main torch to start the games. A specified athlete runner would run through the cordon of officers with sirens blaring and the helicopter overhead to light the main torch. These athletes and their families are the most grateful folks you’d ever meet and love what we as Law Enforcement do to support them. There’s no better feeling than running into that stadium and seeing the smiles on the faces of these athletes. Law Enforcement generally raises around $600,000 to support Special Olympics for the Summer and Winter Games."
Obviously, this special event had to be canceled this year due to COVID-19. Starfish had intended to support it with volunteers, but we're hoping we can support the virtual race instead. Even if you don't usually participate in races, this is one that could appeal to you, because there is no distance requirement, so even little kiddos can take part. In fact, you can even bike or drive it.
If you absolutely have no interest in participating in a race of any kind (or if the $30 donation is a bit steep, but you could spare $5 or $10), you can donate directly to the Columbus Police Department team in general (or to Ofc David Jones or to Starfish president, Nicole Banks, who's already registered).
All of our Starfish board members, some of whom are pictured above, are participating in the LETR. We hope to see your names listed on the CPD team with ours.
(Starfish can't accept donations for the Torch Run. Please go directly to their site instead.)
Ofc David Jones at some of the Starfish events he's participated in: with K-9 Ayko during the K-9 Week he organized for Virtual Books & Badges; with Ofc James Poole, Nicole Banks, and Ofc Pete Casuccio (and Starfish Board Member) at Cops & Barbers 2019; with K-9 Ayko on Christmas Day 2019 before they went to hand out gift bags to the homeless; reading at the first Books & Badges event on December 19, 2019; with Ayko during the ride along with Nicole Banks; and finally with Ayko during their presentation at our January 2020 meeting.
Some of our Starfish Board Members (clockwise, starting on the left): Deputy Chief Tim Becker and friend, COL (Ret) Yee Hang and friend, Thomas Spyker, Ofc Pete Casuccio, Shirley Cartagena, and Nicole Banks