Skip to main content

Michigan Law Enforcement Torch Run Goes Virtual

Annual traditions may have taken a bit of a backseat the better part of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some things are just too important to put off.  

"Last year, our department helped raise more than $1 million for Special Olympics programs statewide," said Capt. Kevin Sweeney, commander of the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) and a member of MSP's Torch Run Team. "Even though we couldn't hold public events due to the pandemic, we had to find ways to keep our fundraising intact for these awesome athletes."

That desire led to revising Run Week, which is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) campaign that raises awareness and funds for Special Olympics Michigan. The MSP has long been a proud sponsor.

This year, Run Week, which takes place Sept. 11-18, will be held virtually. Persons who wish to support our runners, can donate here

Captain Sweeney currently serves on the LETR Executive Council, but has been involved with Special Olympics for more than 20 years. Wanting the experience again this year, he and eight other department members will travel to a campground in Cheboygan and stay for the week.

To maintain social distancing and observe all recommended health and safety guidelines, they'll run their miles on roads and trails around their campground, rather than stopping at community events with members of the public, which this year have all been canceled out of an abundance of caution. 

"We won't be able to meet and interact with athletes along the way and that's disappointing," said Captain Sweeney. "But we're still able to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan. That's something we needed to continue."

"We've had to be really creative," said F/Lt. Jennifer Johnson, commander of the Metro South Post. "One of LETR's main fundraising events, polar plunges, were cancelled.  We've tried to offset some of this loss, with bottle and can drives. Supporters in the metro Detroit area have been very generous and we've already netted thousands of dollars."

The Metro South Post is hosting another bottle and can drive on Saturday, Sept. 12. A drop-off display will be set up outside the post at 12111 Telegraph Road in Taylor from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"I started with the LETR because I wanted to give back to the community I serve," said F/Lieutenant Johnson. "I attended the Summer Games in 2011, to present medals to athletes, and saw the incredible bond the athletes and law enforcement share. It is truly good for the soul."

F/Lieutenant Johnson will also run the Central Team Route during Run Week and encourages others to participate wherever they can.

"We want to see as many people being healthy and staying active to honor our athletes," she said.