The Special Olympics will be held this weekend on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono, drawing thousands of athletes and their families to the area! Prior to the games, there's an opening parade that all the athletes march in, joined by Knights of Columbus, members of the law enforcement community and more. The law enforcement community will be bringing the torch!

History of the Torch Run

In 1985 Chief Robert Bell of the Bridgton Police Department presented the idea of the Law Enforcement Torch Run to Special Olympics Maine's Executive Director Mickey Boutilier, and then to the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. As a result, the Maine Torch Run program began.Each year nearly 700 members of Maine law enforcement run approximately 900 miles carrying our Flame of Hope. The state is divided into fifteen sections, or Legs. Each Leg covers a portion of the state and the run concludes on Friday evening of the Special Olympics Summer State Games at Opening Ceremonies.Runners raise funds for Special Olympics Maine in a number of ways: they obtain pledges for the actual run - they hold Tip-A-Cop events at local restaurants - they hold Roof-Sits at local Wal-Marts across the state - they have bake sales, car washes, benefit basketball games, voluntary toll-booths - they sell Torch Run T-shirts, hold Serve and Protect events at local gas stations, sell raffle tickets for Harley motorcycles, sell paper torches at area businesses, and many, many more clever events.

To date, Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Maine has raised over ONE MILLION DOLLARS !

For further information on the Law Enforcement Torch Run or Special Olympics Maine, please contact your local Police Department or call the SOME Torch Run liaison, Lisa Bird at 879-0489 ext 15.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is Special Olympics' largest grass-roots fund-raiser and public awareness vehicle. It began in 1981, when Witcha, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise funds for and increase an awareness of Special Olympics. He also felt there was a need to involve local law enforcement personnel in the community and with the Special Olympics.

After three years of successful Torch Runs in Kansas, LaMunyon presented the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). With IACP's enthusiastic support and leadership, as well as the involvement of all facets of the law enforcement community -- sheriff's associations, police unions, state, county, municipal, military and federal law enforcement, and corrections officers -- the Torch Run expanded into seven states by 1985; forty-three states by 1986; and fifty states and twenty-three nations in 1996. By 1997 Europe and Asia were added to the list. Every two years, Law Enforcement officers representing their state's or nation's Torch Run program, comprise a "Final Leg Team" which carries the Olympic Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games

The Torch Run leg that comes through Bangor will be coming across the Hermon Line at 2:30PM. They will be passing through downtown at about 3: 20PM where runners will join runners from the Bar Harbor/Ellsworth area. (The Bar Harbor leg will begin at 7 AM from the Bar Harbor Town Pier, and runners are expected to be in downtown Ellsworth at 10 AM.)  They will proceed up State Street and merge with the Millinocket runners at the Steam Plant that is just outside the University of Maine campus. Once all three legs have joined up, there will be a final run by law enforcement officers on to campus prior to opening ceremonies.