Clawson Police and Other Cities Competing in Torch Run for Special Olympics
(Mark Stowers, Sept. 5, 2020)
Clawson, MI – A backyard get together for folks with disabilities in the 1960s grew into what we now know as the Special Olympics, a worldwide competition encompassing  a variety of skills.  Special Olympics is funded through donations and fundraisers. One such fundraiser is the annual LETR – Law Enforcement Torch Run to help fund Michigan Special Olympic athletes and their competition. Officers from several Oakland County cities are part of the fundraising this year, including those from Clawson.
Sargent Scott Vierk of the Clawson Police Department told Oakland County Times, “The two main goals of the Law Enforcement Torch Run are to raise funds and create awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Michigan. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is Special Olympics Michigan’s largest fundraising program.”
Founded in 1984, Michigan’s Special Olympic program supports more than 23,000 athletes at no cost to the athletes or their family. Special Olympics Michigan provides year-round sports and training for those with intellectual disabilities.
“Clawson PD has supported the Special Olympics for many years,” Sgt. Vierk said. “Our earliest still remaining record of participating dates back to 2010 but we are certain we participated prior to that as well. This is a voluntary event and we have many officers that participate on their own time each year as a way to give back to the community.”
With coronavirus restricting the way fundraisers are normally put together, this year’s event will be a virtual run instead of a large one day run and torch passing.
“In years past, the run would start in one community and the torch would be passed off to officers in the next community,” Sgt. Vierk explained. “Clawson PD usually accepted the torch from Royal Oak PD and would run it through Clawson. We would then either hand the torch off to Madison Heights PD or Troy PD depending on the planned route. This year the event is being planned as a virtual run. Participants can run or walk from any location during the week of 9/11 – 9/18 which is called LETR Run Week.”
The Clawson Police Department will have Sgt Vierk, Sgt Bauss and Officer Tracy representing them in this year’s event.
“Each year we set our fundraising goal a little higher,” Sgt. Vierk said. “Our goal last year was to raise the most money of the Oakland County agencies in the east leg of the Oakland County Community Run and we finished in 3rd with $627 raised. For an agency our size that was quite an accomplishment. Our goal remains the same this year and to date we have met that goal. Agencies included in the east leg of the run include Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Berkley, Lathrup Village and Southfield.”
To date Clawson PD has raised $1,067 and will be accepting donations through 9/18.
“Our fundraising page can be found on the top of Clawson PD Facebook page or people can visit the Law Enforcement Torch Run website at: www.somi.org/letr and donate directly to the Clawson PD fundraising team,” he said.
In 2019, $5,500 was raised by the eleven Oakland County agencies combined. This year’s goal is $7,500.
Officer Jillian Mahlmeister, Community Engagement Officer for the Ferndale Police Department stated, “Ferndale Police has been involved in the torch run for about 22 years now. Ferndale Police Sergeant Danielson has been a coordinator for the past eight years.”
The Virtual Weeklong Run can be a “run, jog or walk in your local community to help to raise funds and awareness for those who have experienced social isolation throughout their lives. While this isn’t the traditional Run Week this year, we want to keep the tradition going,” she said.
The Virtual LETR Run Week is an event that can be run or walked from any location. Participants can hit the trails or the treadmill at their own pace.
“Run or walk by yourself, with your spouse, kids or fido too,” she said. “We just want to see as many people staying active and healthy for our athletes.”
Participants can complete their run/walk/jog between September 11th and the 18th and are encouraged to share photos with their online fundraising page to help create awareness and raise funds for SOMI.
The fundraising page for Oakland county can be found at Classy.org.
So far this year, Clawson is leading the fundraising with $1,067 pledged while Madison Heights has $441 and Ferndale has $53. To follow the fundraising numbers, click on https://www.classy.org/team/288643.