Rochester, Olmsted County officers complete longest torch run in Minnesota

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(ABC 6 News) – Law enforcement across the state participated in the annual Special Olympics Torch Run on Wednesday, to celebrate the athletes participating in the event.

In the southeastern Minnesota region, local law enforcement officers made the longest route in honor of these athletes. It’s a 96-mile course that brings these officers from the Med City all the way to the edge of the Twin Cities.

“Okay, riders. Ready to rock n’ roll?” asked Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, after his crew made their first pit stop.

From Rochester, to Zumbrota, to Lake City and ending in Hastings, this is the longest torch run law enforcement makes in the state to show their support for Special Olympic athletes. And it’s a tradition that holds a special place for former Rochester Police Department officer and current Faribault Chief of Police, John Sherwen.

“I actually started my career in Wichita, Kansas, and fun fact, the Wichita Police Department was the first department in the country to carry the torch for Special Olympics,” Sherwen said. “So, it’s something that’s been a part of my entire career. And it’s something where we can come out and unite as law enforcement and support the athletes who really are the ones who are truly brave and are out there giving it their all.”

The Special Olympic athletes are also appreciative of those in law enforcement who take part in the Torch Run each year to show their support for what they do.

“Well I feel like actually appreciated most of these police officers will take time off of their day to come and celebrate with us,” said Katelyn Kasel, a member of the Hastings Shark Special Olympic team.

“That’s just so exciting [for us] when we get there,” said Torgerson on the athletes reactions. “They’re so joyful and excited to see us.”

While the athletes put forth a lot of endurance in what they do, the officers participating in the Torch Run each year do the same. Especially on a 96-mile trip that is over 90 degrees on the first day of summer.

“The guys that are doing the bike ride the whole way, they’re not novice bikers. Obviously they’ve been around the horn a few times,” said Torgerson.

The Hastings Shark have over 100 athletes participating in this year’s Special Olympics. Next year, the course from Rochester to Hastings will remain the same, with the exception of the starting point being rotated to Hastings.