Community members are being encouraged to take part in an upcoming event to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Michigan.

Law enforcement and corrections personnel have been raising funds for Special Olympics Michigan athletes throughout the year, which culminates with more than 40 community runs during Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Run Week from September 7th through the 13th. Additional Law Enforcement Torch Run members will be running a non-stop 750-mile relay that starts in Copper Harbor in the tip of the Upper Peninsula and ends in Belle Isle in Detroit.
An event will be held for the first time in the Brighton area on Monday, September 9th at Huron Meadows Metropark.

LETR Liaison Andrea Rachko tells WHMI this marks the largest grassroots fundraising effort for the program and Michigan is actually one of the top ten for programs in the world. She says there are 85 programs and they pride themselves on creating that much awareness and funds for athletes. Rachko says money raised goes back to help fund the local and state programs, as there is no cost for athletes to participate. Rachko says 100% of proceeds go back to the program in some way – noting some goes back to state level, which helps to cut costs for local programs to attend statewide tournaments. Every local program attends a statement tournament. Rachko says the law enforcement fundraising takes place through the year and helps keep registration costs down but proceeds also go back to local programs. She says those funds are used for general day-to-day uniforms, equipment, housing, field or transportation costs because there is no cost for athletes to attend statewide or regional tournaments or any local events or practices.

Rachko noted that Brighton High School is part of the Unified Champion School Program and a banner program, meaning it has received nationwide recognition for their unified front with athletes in local programs. Brighton Unified includes teams in three sports – basketball, bocce ball and flag football – that involve both students from the regular student body and special needs students playing together on the same teams. Last October, Brighton High School was presented with an award and a banner by the ESPN sports network through the ESPN Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools’ National Recognition Program for its Brighton Unified initiative. The occasion was Brighton High School’s selection as one of only five high schools in the country chosen as a Unified Champion School.

Registration for the 2019 Brighton Community Run is $25 and a t-shirt is included for the local event that kicks off at 6pm. Pre-registration is encouraged but can also be done on site the day of the event. Rachko says the event is open to anyone and being the first year, they want people to come out to support the cause, interact with local and statewide Torch Run volunteers and athletes. Details can be found through the provided link. Photo: (JM)