Navajo police running Special Olympics torch across the reservation
By Shondiin Silversmith
WINDOW ROCK, May 2, 2014
"The law enforcement torch run is a unique partnership with the Special Olympics where law enforcement (officers) throughout the state of Arizona chose the Special Olympics as their charity of choice," said Josh Montgomery, law enforcement torch run coordinator. "They'll do things such as fundraising events throughout the year and they'll help all the athletes in different competitions."
"The Navajo Nation Police Department does a phenomenal job that continues to support the Special Olympics," Montgomery said.
The law enforcement torch run for the Navajo Nation Police Department was the leg (running distance) seven run and it started at the Navajo Nation Veteran Memorial Park in Window Rock on April 26. The first runners holding the torch was Sgt. Ron Bitah and Sgt. Timothy Johnson from the Dilkon District.
Navajo Nation Criminal Investigator and Leg Seven Coordinator Samantha Yazzie said there are seven legs (running distances) all over the state of Arizona and the leg seven run is for the north side of the state. It started in Window Rock and ended at U.S. 89 West of Tuba City, Yazzie said and 20 police officers from the Navajo Nation participated.
"We do it every year because we want to support the Special Olympic athletes, the Navajo Nation athletes. We do it mainly for them. Knowing that it's all for a good cause," Yazzie added, noting that the best part of the run is being able to interact with the athletes and other law enforcement officers.
"We look forward to it every year," Yazzie said because they've been doing it for the past seven years.
Montgomery added that the torch run is actually the biggest part of the year and it started at the Navajo Nation Police Department in Window Rock on April 26 and will end on at the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. on May 2.
"We break up the state in seven different legs (running distances) where you'll have law enforcement (officers) run from community to community and city to city," Montgomery said. "They will carry the touch and hand it off to the next community."
Montgomery said the final leg of the torch run will be on Friday when they run the torch through Phoenix into Grand Canyon University.
Yazzie will be one of seven officers running the torch into Grand Canyon University to kick off the summer games.
"It feels fantastic," Yazzie said. "It is an honor and just knowing that all of our hard work through the past seven years has come to this.
"As far as being able to carry the torch in, it just means all that hard work has paid off and our Navajo Nation will be recognized," Yazzie added.
"The flame of hope, it's their way of symbolizing support throughout the year for the Special Olympics," Montgomery added, noting that there will be more than 100 officers running in that morning.
"They will light the caldrons that will officially open up the summer games that will feature 1200 plus athletes," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said the torch run is "a great way to just show that community partnership" because the Law Enforcement officers are going "above and beyond to show their support for people with special needs. It's a great way to symbolize and show their support for people who have a different need then they do."
It's also a great way to get the communities attention for what they are running for, Montgomery added. "It's really something special. We're hoping anyone who is willing to come out and show their support to come out this Friday at Grand Canyon University."
As of today the torch is in the Phoenix area making its way to the final leg of the run tomorrow.
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