More than 300 Texas law enforcement officers carried torches from across the state into Maverick Stadium this morning.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, co-chair of the Law Enforcement Torch Run told the assembled crowd that officers are here "for only one reason: the athletes. They are the best athletes and the most special people in Texas," he said.
Special Olympics Texas president and CEO Margaret Larsen expressed her appreciation to the officers for their hard work and dedication to SOTX athletes. "You are the heart and soul of this organization, and you have my personal thanks for keeping my family and all other Texas families safe."
Dallas Police Chief David Brown, co-chair of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, said observed a that his agency is totally committed to Special Olympics Texs. "We're all in. We're committing all our time and effort to SOTX."
Officers observed a moment of silence for former Dallas Cowboys Coach Joe Avezzano, who died earlier this year. Avezzano had participated in the torch run each year. "We loved Joe," said Doug Ray, an SOTX employee who works with the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Special Olympics International athlete Loretta Claiborne ran with the officers and then spoke about her experiences as an athlete. "I used to run from the police, but now I run with them. I learned real fast that police officers are here to protect us. You have the love and support of Special Olympics athetes. You make a difference for our athletes. If you think you don't, you should know that you do," she said.
At the end of the news conference, members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run presented a check for $1.3 million to Steve Hayes, president of the Special Olympics Texas board of directors. "Thank you for all you do," he said.