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Cops, officials run to benefit Special Olympics

Police officers and government officials jog down Pine Avenue near Slappey Boulevard Friday as a part of the Special Olympics Torch Run.

Police officers and government officials jog down Pine Avenue near Slappey Boulevard Friday as a part of the Special Olympics Torch Run.

ALBANY, Ga. — For nearly 20 years, Larry Davis has supported Dougherty County Special Olympians by helping to organize the annual law enforcement torch run through town.

It’s a fun event that allows police officers and deputies to shed their uniforms for a few hours and jog through town while helping to raise awareness and money for local athletes who compete each summer in spite of birth defects or mental or physical challenges.

A mob of local police officers, deputies and government officials — minus one — gathered Friday at the Dougherty County Judicial building.

“A very, very dear person to me was involved in this from Day 1, and he’s noticeably absent today. I’d like for everyone to just take a moment of silence to remember and offer up a prayer for Larry Michael Davis,” Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek said. “He was so deeply involved in this for so many years. We ran together for I don’t know how many years. I know he’s sorely missed, but with a beautiful day like today I know he’s looking down on us.”

Billy Griner, a Special Olympian who is a fixture at the runs, had a few kind words to say about Davis.

“He was a driving force behind the torch run, (and) cops on doughnut shops every year,” Griner said.

On a more positive note, Kristen Caso with the Albany Parks and Recreation Department said a fundraiser last week put on by area law enforcement at the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Shop raked in more than $15,000 to help defray the costs of sending the Albany area Special Olympians to compete in the summer games in Atlanta.

“I am proud to announce this morning that we went out and raised some money for Special Olympics Georgia: to the tune of 15,163 dollars,” Caso said.

She noted that volunteers had logged more than 400 hours of service for the weekendlong event.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, who has seen firsthand how people with mental and physical challenges can overcome those challenges and contribute to the good of society, thanked those who participated Friday in the 5-mile run to Publix.

“I want to just thank all of the runners who are out here today for the support you gave us last weekend and the support you’re going to give us today. ... We appreciate what you do for us every day,” Sproul said.

Phyllis Banks-Whitley, the spokeswoman for the Albany Police Department, called the event one that brings all of the law enforcement agencies together for a common goal other than crime.

“There are special events that bring us all together, and fundraising for the Special Olympics is one of those events,” she said. “It’s a time when all of law enforcement can come together and participate for a good cause.”

Griner, with medals shining around his neck, offered perhaps the most touching and poignant comments of the event Friday just before the run started.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” Griner said. “We can’t get up there by ourselves. We have to have the community’s help. God bless y’all.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siHi-tag9Co

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