While summer is certainly an exciting time of year for Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes who are looking forward to the big stage of the State Summer Games, it’s also a fun time of year for our dedicated supporters in law enforcement – the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Wisconsin.
That’s because every year, just prior to the Summer Games, hundreds of members of law enforcement around the state hit the pavement by foot, or even bike, in more than 30 Wisconsin communities for the Final Leg. The Final Leg serves not only as an opportunity for the LETR to display their support for Special Olympics Wisconsin, but it also serves as a fundraiser for the athletes.
“The Final Leg is such a neat way for our fans in the LETR to show off how much they support our athletes and our organization. It means so much to the athletes that law enforcement are so supportive and the Final Leg makes the lead up to the Summer Games that much more exciting,” said Hailey Aderman, Special Olympics Wisconsin’s director of special events and LETR. “And the Final Legs aren’t just for law enforcement. I encourage people to find a Final Leg near them and join us in celebrating Special Olympics Wisconsin and the LETR. It’s an incredibly rewarding and memorable experience.”
“If you come out for a Final Leg, I guarantee that you’ll meet some fantastic athletes who will give you the biggest hug and smile. It will be so rewarding and heartwarming.” – LETR member Kathy Schult
Many of the LETR participants of the Final Leg even go on to converge in Stevens Point to kick off the State Summer Games. It’s a goose bump-inducing experience to watch the officers escorting the Flame of Hope torch into the stadium in formation while calling out the official Torch Run Cadence. And thus the Final Leg ends and the Summer Games begin.
One member of the LETR who has been around for many of those goose bump-inducing moments over the years is Kathy Schult, a now-retired officer of the Milwaukee Police Department. Schult began running in the Final Leg in the early 90’s, just a handful of years after it started in 1986. The tight-knit connection between law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes has had Schult hooked from the start. And knowing that she’s helping raise money for the athletes to compete makes it worthwhile.
“I do the Final Leg for the athletes and their families. It’s rewarding to see them play,” Schult said. “And the relationship between the athletes and police… it’s like, wow.”
Schult’s love of Special Olympics and the Final Leg has even taken her abroad. For her dedication to Special Olympics Wisconsin and the Final Leg, Schult was selected to run in the 2011 Final Leg for the Special Olympics World Games in Greece. She still considers it a highlight of her life.
While the upcoming Final Leg for Special Olympics Wisconsin won’t be in as far-flung of a place as Greece, Schult believes there’s still more than enough reason for people to participate.
“If you come out for a Final Leg, I guarantee that you’ll meet some fantastic athletes who will give you the biggest hug and smile. It will be so rewarding and heartwarming.”