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Greer police escort Torch of Hope through Greer

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Friday, June 5, 2015

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Special Olympian Natalie Dopp was given the honor having Greer's torch lit at City Park.

Julie McCombs

Special Olympian Natalie Dopp was given the honor having Greer's torch lit at City Park.



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Greer fire department staff applaud the runners passing the station on Poinsett Street.
 

Julie McCombs

Greer fire department staff applaud the runners passing the station on Poinsett Street.

 



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Sgt. Chris Forrester organized the Greer Police Department's participation in the Special Olympics Flame of Hope run.
 

Julie McCombs

Sgt. Chris Forrester organized the Greer Police Department's participation in the Special Olympics Flame of Hope run.

 



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The Greer contingent of runners.
 

The Greer contingent of runners.

 



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Sergeant Chris Forrester has participated in torch runs with the Upstate Special Olympics Law Enforcement Center run in Greenville from the LEC to Furman University, site of upstate Special Olympics.

Friday had a little extra spark when Forrester was among the Greer Police Department’s team participating in the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America Flame of Hope torch relay. It is headed to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

Forrester and other members of the run were escorted by Los Angeles Police law enforcement officials. Friday was Day 11 of the 46-day run with three routes going east to west. The games will be July 25-Aug. 2.

“I thought it was great for the officers from LAPD and LA County Sheriff's Department to be escorting the flame across the U.S.,” Forrester said. “They had some down time while in Greer and were able to see some of the sites around town and also enjoy some lunch at Mutt's BBQ. “Sgt. (Randle) Ballenger said they were very impressed with our department and equipment.”

It was Forrester who helped organize Greer PD’s participation in Friday’s run. “Sgt. Forrester is the one who drove this and got us involved,” Police Chief Dan Reynolds said. “We sent out an email and those who volunteered ran today.”

Enough money was raised, more than $1,500 that the city will receive a torch that traveled across the country.

“When Ballenger told me about the Unified Relay contacted him about coordinating the run route, he and I thought it would be great for us to have a group participate in the relay and I knew we could get some runners to join in,” Forrester said.

Joining Forrester was officer Chris Krajenka, Sgt. Jeff Smith and Detective Mary Wood. Special Olympian Natalie Dopp was given the honor for the lighting of the torch at Greer City Park’s entrance.

“While we were running, it felt great to be there with Natalie and see the excitement and determination on her face and know that the other athletes would have those same feelings and emotions as the flame arrives in Los Angeles and while they participate in their events,” Forrester said.

Mike Teems is executive director of the Law Enforcement Special Olympics (LESO). The organization raises $50 million a year, he said. “The excitement and energy these Special Olympics athletes have when they carry that torch is a great feeling,” Teems said.

“What you learn from the Special Olympians is they touch our lives,” Teems said. “The athletes are very able in many ways. Sport is a great dynamic for everybody. The athletes build confidence and self-esteem.”

The Greer leg got an early start when the flame arrived 30 minutes before scheduled at City Park. Forrester observed the onlookers and Natalie during the run

“While we were running, there were a lot of citizens standing outside and sitting in their cars as we passed,” Forrester said. “You could tell that some were a little frustrated at the delay, but when they saw the reason and saw Natalie out there they would pull out their phones and cheer us on.

“We had great support from the community and you could tell that Natalie fed off of the energy from everyone cheering for her.”

 

 

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