Supporting a special group of athletes

May 1, 2019

Law enforcement officers from the Lake Havasu region are determined that no special needs athlete will ever be turned away from competing in the Special Olympics.

Tuesday morning, officers from the Lake Havasu City Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, cadets at the Western Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy and special needs athletes ran 13 miles in the 33rd Annual Torch Run to help raise money to ensure the athletes will be able to compete at the Summer Games.

“We were really blessed with great weather today for everyone to run,” said Shelly Wijnhamer.

Wijnhamer is one of the organizers of the Run, along with her husband, Jim, who is retired from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.

“The Law Enforcement Torch Run raised $1.4 million in Arizona in 2018 and that money helps all the athletes get a chance to make it to the Games,” Shelly Wijnhamer said. “We also have an invitation-only ‘Breakfast of Champions’ event that raises money, too.”

Jim Wijnhamer said torch runs across the world have raised one-half billion dollars in support of Special Olympics.

The weather was indeed conducive to running as a healthy breeze and temperatures in the upper 60s were a welcome departure from the 100-degree heat of the previous weekend.

Special needs athlete Daryl Reckinger carried the U.S. flag for a good bit of the run. It’s his first year to compete.

“It’s a lot of running, from SARA Park to here, but I did it,” Reckinger said.

Runners began their 13-mile journey at SARA Park before stopping for a brief break in Rotary Park. They continued along the Bridgewater Channel, with a law enforcement boat escort, before concluding the arduous run at Anderson Toyota for breakfast.

Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 252 or at sshindledecker@havasunews.com.