For retired California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Blondon, the moments at the medal stand with the Special Olympics Southern California athletes represented “the biggest and best part” of his involvement.
But that was just one aspect of a role with the Law Enforcement Torch Run that allowed him to volunteer at various events, and even run with the Flame of Hope on a number of occasions during Opening Ceremonies—including Summer Games.
“I felt nervous and excited to be asked to do such an event and I was just an officer, nothing special,” said Officer Blondon, who spent nearly 20 years with CHP. “The athlete walked—or should I say ran—me through the process of carrying the torch.
“What a rush hearing them all cheering for the torch coming in to start the Games.”
Watching the athletes compete, succeed and, ultimately, earn a medal is the biggest and most emotional “thrill,” however.
“What a thrill to see their faces and responses to you putting a medal over their heads and around their necks,” he said. “You get hugs, high fives, smiles, yells, screams even.
“I just don’t know how to describe the feelings I would get, and even to this day still get, when I see an athlete receiving a medal. I must say I do tear up and find it hard to keep my composure.”
Even in retirement, Officer Blondon remains involved as the LETR Council’s Riverside County regional director.