The Flame of Hope made its way through Conway on Wednesday, as officers ran, with torch in hand, to raise awareness of the 2019 Special Olympics of Arkansas Summer Games.
Before taking the torch to its next destination Conway Police Department officers taking part in the local law enforcement Torch Run made a pit stop at the Conway Human Development Center as they made their way across town.
A handful of the facility's resident athletes met officers atop the Siebenmorgen Road Bridge so that the group could run onto the CHDC campus while athlete William Woods held up the Flame of Hope.
Officers ran alongside resident athletes to get the CHDC community excited about the Summer Games, which begin Friday night. As they ran from one end of the CHDC campus to the other, local officers stopped to let the center's residents hold the Flame of Hope and posed for photos.
CPD spokesman LaTresha Woodruff said Conway officers enjoy taking part in the torch run each year as they help local athletes kick off the Special Olympics.
"It is an absolute honor for our department to take part in the Torch Run for Special Olympics," she said. "The athletes hold a special place in our hearts and we take every opportunity we can to help out in any way we can. We have developed a wonderful relationship with the athletes at CHDC and will continue to support them in all of their endeavors."
The Law Enforcement Torch Run raises money and awareness for Special Olympics with nearly 100 agencies and about 1,5000 officers working year round to reach its goal.
Having the officers make their way across the CHDC grounds was a way to further build relationships with the athletes and other residents while also building excitement about the upcoming summer games.
CHDC Superintendent Sarah Murphy said the annual Torch Run is a favorite among the center's residents.
"Everyone makes signs, and cheers on our athletes and the officers as they make their way through," she said.
SOAR Coach Todd Garrett said the event is inclusive and that it allows those who do not take part in SOAR games to cheer on their friends.
"It's something everyone can do, even if they're not participating in a sport, they can all participate in this," he said.
Woodruff said CPD officers enjoys nurturing and creating bonds between CHDC residents.
The four-day Torch Run kicked off Monday, with runners making their way toward the State Capital in Little Rock, beginning from each of the state’s four corners.
Torch runners will ultimately meet at the State Capital to join their flames as part of the ceremonial lighting of the final leg — a 50-mile continuous run, ending at the Harding University Stadium on Thursday to kick off the 2019 Special Olympics of Arkansas Summer Games.