Athletes turn out for the St. John Parish Special Olympics Torch Run

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 21, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – The St. John Parish Special Olympics Torch Run, part of the 22nd annual Bayou Land Area Torch Run. The 8 ? mile run began its journey at the LaPlace Frostop and ended at St. Peter Church.

The event featured area bikers, runners and support vehicles traveling the distance to raise funds for children and adults with mental retardation. Money raised will provide for year-round sports training and athletic competitions in a variety of olympic-type sports.

The nationwide ceremonial run of the olympic torch precedes the Special Olympic Louisiana Summer Games.

The two main goals of the Torch Run are to spread awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities and to generate funds for year-round sports training programs of the Special Olympics that are available to all children and adults with disabilities at no cost to the athletes or their families.

&#8220We do it to bring public awareness and raise funds for those who are physically challenged,” says Sgt. Loma Linda Michel of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Department.

Capt. Greg &#8220Za” Maurin added, &#8220This event gets people excited about a good cause and gets them fired up to exercise.”

&#8220This is our first year participating and we are excited to be a part of it,” says Sandi Lambert, business development representative for Louisiana Federal Credit Union. &#8220It’s a lot of good people coming together for a good cause.”

The Special Olympics program was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. The program is currently offered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories and 146 foreign countries.

In Louisiana, more than 12,000 mentally retarded children and adults participate in the program. The athletes compete in more than 100 local and area competitions a year. Those who qualify move on to compete at the five annual state competitions.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the organization’s largest fund-raiser and it also helps raise public awareness.

Organizers of the local event include Greg &#8220Za” Maurin and Michael Davis of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office and Al Berthelot. Sponsors include Shell Motiva, Dupont, ADM, Bunge, Louisiana Federal Credit Union and NORD-SUD Shipping Inc.

Anyone interested in joining the Torch Run or becoming a sponsor should contact the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Department at (985) 652-7058 or e-mail Capt. Greg Maurin.