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Police escort: 16-year-old gets help running torch for upcoming Special Olympics

Joplin Globe - 5/23/2018

May 23--WEBB CITY, Mo. -- Cail Tingle thought he was a shoo-in to run the torch for Special Olympics alongside officers with the Webb City Police Department -- just like he did last year.

Not so fast, police said.

"We told him he couldn't do it, unless he slows down his pace," said Teague Braker, communications supervisor for the department. "We called him 'Flash' last year, so we had to make him slow down. Cail 'Flash' Tingle."

At the sound of his nickname, Cail raised up his arms and cheered. Despite running almost 4 miles in humid weather, he was energized.

"Awesome!" he yelled when asked how he felt at the end of the run.

Cail, 16, ran alongside more than a dozen members of the department Tuesday as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, held in advance of Special Olympics Missouri's State Summer Games in early June.

A similar-size group of Joplin Police Department officers, starting from a substation south of 32nd and Main streets, ran about 7 miles to Madison and Cardinal, where they passed the torch to Cail. The excited teen held it high before posing for pictures, then starting on an almost 4-mile route that went to Webb City High School and back to King Jack Park.

Cail has pachygyria, a rare developmental condition that results in fewer gyri, the ridges between the wrinkles in the brain, according to information from the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms can manifest as developmental delay, seizures or difficulties with eating or swallowing.

In Cail's case, it has resulted in poor oral motor control, said Angee Tingle, his mother. Tingle said that while he can get some basic words out, a majority of conversations take some translation.

But he had no problem communicating his desire to make this torch run. He ran it during last year's Law Enforcement Torch Run and had a blast, his mom said. His interest was further pushed by connections with the police and fire departments.

"The school resource officer is very kind to Cail," Tingle said. "He knows (Braker) from the police department, and a lot of firefighters. He loves bringing awareness of Special Olympics to the community."

The route through Webb City was changed for Cail this year, Braker said. Last year's route stuck close to Route 66, which passes by Webb City Middle School. This year, Cail was a freshman at the high school, so the route went farther north to Stadium Drive -- a route that passed by both schools.

The heat and humidity of the day made this year's run more difficult for Cail, his mother said. But seeing students outside of every building, including more than 300 middle school students lined across Madison and Stadium, gave him energy.

"He struggled at first," Tingle said. "But they were all out to cheer him on, and that gave him what he needed to struggle through. That group of classmates is amazing. They encourage him, lift him up and do so much for him."

In addition to the cheering section, several Special Olympians who are students at the middle school joined the running crew in the leg from that intersection back to the middle school.

Two of Cail's former teachers at the middle school were part of the crowd. Jodi Rogers and Fonda Crouch, both sixth-grade teachers, said that the students in the basic skills programs "rock our world."

"They teach us things," Crouch said. "Things like gratitude, perseverance and kindness."

Cail's day wasn't done at the end of the leg at King Jack Park, where the torch was to be passed to members of the Carthage Police Department. Tingle said Cail would practice later that day for his events at state.

"These kids are super dedicated," she said about the Special Olympians preparing to compete. "He's grateful to do this run every year. A lot of these athletes don't get recognized, but they work just as hard."

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(c)2018 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

Visit The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.) at www.joplinglobe.com

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