Braving the Heat, Bay Area Officers Run To Raise Funds For Special Olympics

Braving the sweltering heat, dozens of Bay Area police officers took part in a relay race on Tuesday to raise awareness and funds for the Northern California Special Olympics. 

Officers traded their uniforms for T-shirts and jogging shorts to partake in the relay race. Officially dubbed the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the race has been a tradition since the early 1980s.

The summer games of the Northern California Special Olympics will take place at University of California, Davis this year, kicking off on June 23.

Officers from the Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville police departments all ran Tuesday, as did officers from the University of California Police Department, running at least 10 miles combined. In each group, an officer was tasked with escorting the Flame of Hope, the official symbol of the Special Olympics. It is meant to give light and, of course, hope to those who have none, according to organizers.

Officers who ran said that participating allowed them to give back to their communities. Law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties ran earlier this month. 

"The running of the torch, the symbolic flame, it's really an honor for me as a law enforcement officer, and for our agency, to be out here and participate," said UCPD Sgt. Sabrina Reich, who held the torch for her team on Tuesday. 

Emeryville police Chief Jennifer Tejada made the event a family affair, bringing her son along for the trip. Visibly drained after running 2.5 miles to hand off the torch at San Pablo Avenue and Burnett Street in Berkeley, the pair said the noble cause behind the run made it easier to complete.

 "It was hot, it was grueling, but when you're doing it for a good cause ..." Tejada said, trailing off.

"You just keep it moving," her son finished.

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