Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run travels through Logan County on its way to Blooming for the State Special Olympics event

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[June 09, 2023] 

Thursday afternoon motorists along Route 66 in Logan County had the opportunity to show support for the 2023 Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics as the group came into the county near Williamsville, and progressed northward to Atlanta where they spent the night.

This morning, Friday, June 9th the run will start its final leg into Bloomington from Atlanta with the intention of arriving at the annual Summer Special Olympics events in the late afternoon. The activities will begin with celebrations and dining opportunities on Friday night and then the games will begin on Saturday and run through Sunday.

As runners traversed their way through Logan County there were two significant stops in Lincoln.

The first stop was at New Union Cemetery where Diane Vanderkooy with the Illinois State Police, and the coordinator of the local leg of the run, spoke briefly at the graveside of the late Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy, Scott Brown.

The second stop was at the Memorial Behavioral Health Center on Postville Drive, where runners spent time visiting with clients at the center, many of whom are going to be competing in this this weekend’s State events.

This year the procession, led by local first response vehicles, included torch runners Aaron Roemer, a forensic scientist at the crime lab in Springfield and Brenda Danosky also with the Illinois State Police Forensics. Both Roemer and Danosky live in Lincoln.

As the two made their way into the entrance of the cemetery they were greeted with several people who had come early and were waiting to cheer the runners in to the city.

Among those waiting were several members of the local police department including City of Lincoln Chief of Police joe Meister and some of his officers and Logan County Sheriff Mark Landers with some of his deputies.

The two runners were happy to be carrying the torch into their hometown, and both commented that they were anxious to move on soon to the Memorial Behavioral Health as they enjoyed seeing and visiting with the clients there.

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As everyone got settled in for the short stop, Vanderkooy spoke about the run and other honor stops they had made for officers who have reached their “end of watch.” She said that she was honored to be among those stopping at Brown’s resting place as he had been a huge force in the torch run.

She mentioned Browns wife Dawn and said that Dawn had wanted to be there for the torch runners but had made a commitment to help at the church riding camp.

The last moments at the cemetery were invested in taking a large group photo with all the runners wearing their 2023 Torch Run tee shirts. As the group gathered, this year’s torch ambassador and Special Olympian Chase Metz, along with Police Chief Meister and Sheriff Landers stood directly behind Brown’s stone and all together held the torch for the photo.

Then, with fire trucks and other emergency vehicles leading the way, the group moved on to the MBH, where they were greeted with loud cheers and applause from clients and staff.

Time was spent with handshakes, high-fives and brief conversations with as many clients as possible. Vanderkooy asked how many of the clients would be participating in this year’s state event and several indicated they would be there.

Another group photo with torch runners disbursed among the clients and a big thumbs up for Special Olympics and the runners were once again ready to high the pavement and make their way out of Lincoln and on to Atlanta.

Special Olympics of Illinois is continually seeking financial support for its programs. If you have an interest in donating to the Special Olympics programs visit the SOILL website  Special Olympics Illinois (

[Nila Smith]

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