The Special Olympics Torch Run traveling along Main Street in downtown Logan, May 21, 2021
LOGAN — More than 40 people braved a few rain drops and cooler temperatures Friday evening, running through downtown Logan to show their support for people with disabilities. The Special Olympics Torch Run drew a chorus of honks and cheers from people along Main Street.
Cache County Sheriff’s Deputy Misty Garn helped organize the run. She explained how this year marked the 40th anniversary of the yearly events, raising money for and supporting athletes in the Special Olympics Summer Games.
“It started in 1981,” said Garn. “Richard LaMunyon in Wichita, Kansas started doing a torch run for his Special Olympic athletes. By 1982, Utah was involved. It took off like wildfire and now it is worldwide, with programs in Asia, Australia, Canada, all across Europe. In 2019, law enforcement raised over 62 million dollars worldwide for Special Olympics.”
In addition to the athletes, runners were joined by family members and other sponsors, including Sheriff Chad Jensen and more than dozen of his deputies.
Due to the cornavirus pandemic that canceled last year’s event, Garn wasn’t given the “green light” for this years run until last month. She said the money they raised will go to support more than just the athletes at the Summer Olympic Games, June 19 in West Valley City.
“Special Olympics goes so much further than sports. At the games, they also have medical tents set up so athletes can get their yearly exams done. Dentists also show up and donate their time. A lot of these kids and adults just don’t have as much access to medical, dental and education resources, and Special Olympics reaches into all of that, not just sports.”
This year’s run started at Merlin Olsen Park, running south along Center Street to Main Street. From there, participants ran north along Main Street to 200 North, where they headed west to 200 East. The group continued along 200 East, south back to the park for a pizza party celebration. Athletes took turns carrying the torch along the route. Those that didn’t want to run the one-mile loop sat on a trailer, pulled by a deputy.
Garn wanted to do something special this year to mark the 40th Anniversary by incorporating an extra leg of the run along some of the trails in Cache Valley. Several of her fellow deputies and others ran the route earlier in the day, during the afternoon rain showers.
“I personally love my trails here in Logan, who doesn’t love all of our canyons and trail systems, so I thought we are going to do something a little hard. We started at Guinavah Campground, went up and over the Crimson Trail and then took the Logan River Trail all the way into Merlin Olsen Park.
The additional run of more than 11 miles allowed people traveling through parts of Logan Canyon and the Island Neighborhood a chance to see the Special Olympics’ Torch go by.
There will be three more runs planned before the final race on June 19, beginning the Opening Ceremonies of the Utah Special Olympics Summer Games.