Led by officers from the King City Police Department, the Flame of Hope is escorted through King City on June 21. (King City Police Department)

KING CITY — Police officers and community members from King City, Greenfield, Soledad and Gonzales escorted the Flame of Hope torch through the Salinas Valley last week as part of its journey to the 2023 Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games.

The 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run, from June 12-23, made its way through Monterey County on June 21. The annual event supports the Special Olympics Northern California, which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with disabilities.

More than 3,500 law enforcement personnel from 200 different Northern California agencies participate in the Torch Run each year. The run spans across two weeks, passes through 30 counties and over 180 different cities, raising awareness and funds to benefit the lives of Special Olympics athletes.

City of King and King City Police Department personnel participate in the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run, which took place in King City on June 21. (King City Police Department)

Known honorably as “Guardians of the Flame,” law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the torch into the Opening Ceremony of competitions, symbolizing courage and championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Opening Ceremony for the 2023 Summer Games took place last Friday, June 23, at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, with competitions scheduled through the weekend.

This year, King City Police Department collected $2,835 in donations and Greenfield Police Department raised $1,589 for the Special Olympics.

“The King City Police Department was happy to take part of the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run,” posted King City PD on social media afterward, adding, “We would like to thank the community for their generous donations.”

Torch Run participants gather to escort the Flame of Hope torch in King City last Wednesday. (King City Police Department)

In Greenfield, local officers were joined by community members, including students from Greenfield High School and Mary Chapa Academy, to escort the Flame of Hope through the city.

“We want to extend a special thank you to Cristal Sanchez for organizing this event, to the participants who joined us on this meaningful run, including staff from the AMPM gas station, Ms. Torres’ Special Day class at Greenfield High School, and Ms. Iniguez’s students from Mary Chapa Academy,” said Greenfield PD in a social media post. “Your support for this incredible cause is truly commendable.”

After their torch run, the Greenfield officers joined the Soledad Police Department for its annual run through Soledad. Gonzales Police Department, Monterey County Probation Department and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also participated.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and show our support for the Special Olympics,” added Greenfield PD. “… We are honored to have been a part of this event and look forward to future opportunities to support this incredible cause.”

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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