Local police officers, deputies prepare for today's torch run
Martinsville Bulletin - 6/5/2018
MARTINSVILLE?Coming up later this morning, officers from the Martinsville Police Department, Henry County Sheriff's Office and Martinsville Sheriff's Office will carry the Flame of Hope Torch from the Martinsville Municipal Building to Danville city limits and pass it on as part of the Virginia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.
The distance is approximately 24 miles, said Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady. That Torch Run usually takes 3 ½ to four hours, he added.
He said the police department has been involved in the Torch Run many years and always participates to help raise funds for Special Olympics.
"We have a lot of local support," Cassady said of the fund-raising.
Master Deputy Coretha Gravely, who is in coordinating the Torch Run for the Martinsville Police Department, said that as of late Monday morning, the department had raised a total of $4,275, which is from donations from individuals and businesses.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run in Virginia involves more than 2,000 law enforcement officers and personnel from more than 300 agencies who take part in a 1900-plus-mile, eight-day torch relay to pass the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across Virginia, according to a Special Olympics Virginia website.
All of the relays will converge in Richmond on Friday for the lighting of the cauldron during the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games Opening Ceremony.
"Since 1987, when the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run began, it has grown consistently every year," according to a Special Olympics Virginia website. "
During last year's event, law enforcement officers raised more than $1.3 million and since it started, the project has contributed more than $19 million to Special Olympics athletes in Virginia.
The website also says that the Torch Run has grown into the most important fund-raising effort of Special Olympics Virginia, and currently the Virginia Torch Run is recognized as one of the top 16 fund-raising Torch Run programs in the world. It also is the most visible event for Special Olympics Virginia, raising funds and awareness.
Gravely said she anticipates at least 25 to 30 officers will take part in today's torch run in Martinsville and Henry County. Sometimes citizens participate too, she said, mentioning a couple of citizens who have told her they plan to take part this year.
The Torch Run is scheduled to leave from the police department at 7 a.m. today . Runners will leave from the police department, get on Church Street and then follow Highway 58 to Danville city limits.
"We always stop at Brosville Elementary School," Gravely said. "Their school is still in. They'll be standing there with little posters. Kids will have little flags for us. They'll be hollering for us. We run through there and they give us water or a little snack or something." She added, "They're the cutest little things."
Also, Gravely said, there will be a ceremony in which the owner of the Brosville animal clinic will make a donation.
Gravely said donations still are being accepted for Special Olympics. For information, call her at 403-5323.
She also said that from June 8-10, she, Officer J.C. White and Lorrie White will chaperone seven Martinsville High School students to compete in the Special Olympics Virginia State Summer Games at the University of Richmond.
These students each will compete in two of these athletic events: 100-meter run, 200-meter run, softball throw and standing long jump. The seven MHS students also will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies, Gravely said.
She said they are excited to be going.
"They love it. They are so loving. They'll walk up and hug you?. They are awesome. They are so excited. They started asking me in January, 'Ms. Gravely, are we going to Richmond?' ? That is the only vacation my kids get. Some of their parents don't have cars. Some have phones cut off. Some I have to take to get physicals."
Gravely said it's definitely worth the trip.
"They just love it," she said. "The reason I know they love it and it holds a special place in my heart, I lost my husband Nov. 14. They sent me a card. All of them signed it? After I came back to work, I went to see them. When I walked in, they ran up to me. I just broke down and cried. They called me at Christmas (and said,) 'Ms. Gravely, this is?, I just want to wish you a merry Christmas."
"A lot of them I've known ever since they were 3 years old," she said.
"They're just loving kids," she added.
Martinsville helps out
Martinsville City Public Schools provides the bus and bus driver that will transport the group to the Special Olympics Summer Games, Gravely said.
Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a various Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, according to the Special Olympics Virginia website.