The torch for Special Olympics Arizona’s 2017 Summer Games made its way through the Verde Valley on Tuesday, May 2, set to arrive for the opening ceremony on Friday, May 5, at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale.
The Sedona Police Department made its mark by raising close to $10,000 for its leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Officers, dispatchers and other members of the force spent part of their day off to help the torch pass through red rock country.
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“It’s great for the athletes, if they can succeed, I’m here to help them succeed,” said Jackie McQuaid, event organizer and SPD officer.
Law enforcement agencies from all of Arizona participated in the torch run. The local handoff came from Coconino County sheriffs from Flagstaff, who carried it to the intersection of State Route 179 and Schnebly Hill Road.
From there SPD, with a total of 24 walkers plus four athletes, made the four-mile trek to Sedona Police Department. A total of 12 athletes are representing the Verde Valley in the Games: Four from Sedona, five from Cottonwood and three from Camp Verde.
McQuaid said that this year saw the greatest contribution from donors, greatly surpassing the original goal of raising $7,000. A spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast in recent months were some of the greater generators of donations.
The money helps support Special Olympics Arizona, funding the athletes’ year-round training and participation in athletics, according to a Nov. 16 news release on the city of Sedona’s website.
According to McQuaid, the department has participated since 2005 or before, this being her second year organizing. She had organized the event in years past as well.
“This is really raising a lot of money and awareness,” Lt. Jim Pott said. “[McQuaid] did a really good job, this is the most successful year as a department.”
From the police department the torch was driven to Main Stage in Cottonwood, where it was carried to Acme Pizzeria before continuing its journey further south.
The Games, which include track and field, powerlifting and volleyball, began Thursday, May 4, and end Saturday, May 6.