ROSEBUD COUNTY — It's not often you see a large group running or cycling along the interstate, but it's a common sight now in Montana with the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run underway.
“It was started in about ’81 out of Wichita, Kansas. A police chief down there was doing it for Special Olympics," said Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton on Tuesday. "Since then, I think there are about 100,000 law enforcement partners. And they’ve raised over $600 million for Special Olympics. It’s worldwide now."
On Tuesday, the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) took its turn carrying the Flame of Hope. Participants can run or bike. The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office is on deck for May 10.
“Today the wind is pretty much at our backs so it’s working pretty good. And we get lots of honks going down the highway. Everybody’s very courteous about moving over," Fulton said. "It’s been a great day so far. Not too hot, but we’ve been in it where it’s snowed on us before and rained and everything else. So this is an exceptionally nice day."
This year's Special Olympics Summer State Games will be held in Bozeman from May 17-19.
RCSO was joined by Alana, a Special Olympics gymnast living in Forsyth, for support.
"They’re very good supporters whenever we do this. They met us at the interchange with homemade posters and stuff,” Fulton said. “She’s always full of energy it seems like. And on the go. Her mom has to keep good track of her."
Other Rosebud County officers enjoyed meeting Alana and putting a face to a name.
“We met at the Colstrip Interchange about six miles outside of Forsyth today,” said Deputy Kyle McClaren on Tuesday. “Very enthusiastic. She’s very happy, gave us high-fives. Once she got there she really did not want to leave."
This year was McClaren's first on the run.
“I like staying in shape and it is just a great cause. It brings a lot of notoriety to the run and just good exercise,” McClaren said. “It was good. The hills were a little rough, but always when you go uphill, you’re going to have some downhill. Something to look forward to."
There are also experienced participants like Clint Heser participating in this year's run. This is Heser's 22nd year.
“I enjoy it every year. It’s a fun opportunity. They usually have me bike over the Hysham hills. So, that’s a challenge and I enjoy that,” said Heser, a retired deputy sheriff for RCSO, on Tuesday. "It’s hard getting used to semis buzzing by you and stuff. But yeah, it’s kind of cool because people drive by and they honk and stuff. They recognize. They know what we’re doing because it’s been well-advertised and stuff. And a lot of people give to it and everything. It’s really a neat opportunity."
Heser enjoys the event every year.
"It's nice that people know what we're doing," Heser said. "It's a positive thing. And they so appreciate it."
To learn more about the Flame of Hope, click here.
To learn more about the Law Enforcement Torch Run, click here.
“I think it just puts another perspective on what law enforcement does,” Fulton said. "It’s been a lot of fun and we’re just glad that we’re able to do it."