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Special Olympics Torch Run relay starts today

Summer games open June 25 at UC Davis

More than 500 law enforcement personnel from federal, military, state, county and local agencies will be running the Special Olympics' Flame of Hope through Northern California starting today and lasting through June 25.

The event is part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, a year-round fundraising campaign that will culminate at the Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games to be held June 25–27 at UC Davis.

The Special Olympics summer games bring together more than 700 Special Olympics athletes to compete in aquatics, bocce, tennis and track & field. The games officially begin after the final leg of the Torch Run has been completed and the Flame of Hope lights the Special Olympics caldron during opening ceremonies.

As one of the state's largest grassroots fundraising efforts, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has become the single largest supporter of Special Olympics for northern California, a free year-round sports program that serves almost 14,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Since 1995, Northern California law enforcement has raised $9.3 million with the goal to raise $850,000 more in 2010.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run begins in Redding (Shasta County) on thisy morning. Throughout the next 10 days the Flame of Hope will travel hundreds of miles throughout 21 counties arriving at Davis on Friday, June 25 for the opening of the summer games. Every officer running the torch has earned the right to be a "Guardian of the Flame" by raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics.

In Alameda County, the Torch Run will start its 27-mile leg at 6:30 a.m.today in Newark before traveling to Fremont, Union City, Hayward, and briefly stopping in Castro Valley. Runners then travel to San Leandro on a BART train and then ending up in Oakland's Jack London Square.

On June 23, the torch travels 25 miles north along the San Pablo Avenue corridor to Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, stopping briefly in Hercules at the Marina. From there, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office take it via boat to Benicia before it moves on to the summer games at Davis.

The torch route does not include any stops in Pleasanton or the Tri-Valley.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. June 25 at Aggie Stadium at UC Davis.

Special Olympics Northern California is a free year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Some 14,000 athletes compete in over 170 competitions throughout the region in 12 sports. Programs are free to all eligible athletes. More information is available on the organization's Website at www.SONC.org.

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