Iowa DOTers carry the torch to kick off Special Olympics Iowa

Torch_croppedSpecial Olympics transforms the lives of people — not only the athletes that compete, but also those who support them. For many years, the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement staff have supported Special Olympics Iowa by braving frigid waters for polar plunges, perching atop buildings for Cop on Top events, rappelling down buildings for Over the Edge promotions, pulling an airplane with a rope, assisting with the World’s Largest Truck Convoy, and proudly carrying the torch to kick off the beginning of each summer’s games.

On May 22, Iowa DOT staff including Director Paul Trombino and 13 MVE officers and investigators participated in this year’s Law Enforcement Torch Run®. The LETR is an event where law enforcement officers and athletes carry the Flame of Hope® to the opening ceremony of Special Olympics’ state games. 

(First row, from left) Paul Strecker, David Thompson, Jacob Steele, Kevin Steele, Joe Colman, Joe Nickell. (Second row, from left) Rod Rhiner, Neil Suckow, Blake Wittrock, Darren Reid, Paul Trombino, Caitlin Reisner, Justin Mack, Ryan Glade and Mark Loney

The run began at the Iowa Department of Public Safety Building in Des Moines where Des Moines Police officers lit the torch and then handed it off to 12 runners representing different law enforcement agencies along the route to Ames. The Iowa DOT contingent ran the torch 3 miles from Irvindale Drive in Ankeny to Northwest 44th Street in Polk City.

Motor Vehicle Sergeant Rod Rhiner, has been involved with Special Olympics for 20 years. “Participating in Special Olympics’ events to raise funds and awareness for people with intellectual disabilities is the right thing to do. But just when you think you’re doing these things to help someone else, you realize how much you are actually benefitting from the experience, too. Not only are we giving back to our communities, the participating officers take away a great sense of satisfaction.”


Torch Run facts

  • The LETR is held in 50 states and in 46 countries, and raised over $46.3 million in 2012. The original Torch Run began 32 years ago in Kansas as a vision of Chief Richard LaMunyon who wanted to give his officers an opportunity to participate in something positive.
  • The mission of the LETR is to raise both dollars and awareness for Special Olympics. Nearly 100 agencies and 1,500 officers work year-round in Iowa to accomplish this goal. The LETR is the largest grass roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics Iowa.
  • In 2013, the Iowa LETR raised more than $600,000 for Special Olympics Iowa. All funds raised help support Special Olympics Iowa's year-round sports training and athletic competition.

NOTE: Special Olympics is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability. We are helping to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place -- one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time. To read more about the Special Olympics and what the organization has been able to accomplish since Eunice Kennedy Shriver pioneered the organization, go to

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