For 27 years, Eric Ledesma has been a police officer and in each of those years, he has been involved with Special Olympics through the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Now a Lieutenant for the Long Beach Police Department, the LETR Final Leg brings everything full circle for Lt. Ledesma. His participation in the 2017 Torch Run allows him to reflect on all of the hard work everyone has done leading up to the Flame of Hope making the final journey into the stadium to begin the annual Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games.
“It’s about showing the world what we are about. It’s about showing the pride of the movement by running down a busy street, hand-in-hand with the athletes,” said Ledesma.
The Torch Run has become a family affair as he has encouraged his family to be involved. The opportunity to bring his son out and run with him was particularly special.
“He was thrilled to be out there with the Special Olympics athletes. He had the chance to see firsthand how the public embraced the runners and the emotions of the athletes involved in the run,” said Lt. Ledesma.
For Lt. Ledesma, it is significant for his son to see the importance of the movement. His son’s uncle was a Special Olympics athlete, and being involved “gives him an understanding of how important it is to individuals with intellectual disabilities to be treated and respected like everyone else.”
Lt. Ledesma believes everyone should go out and experience Special Olympics by attending an event and seeing firsthand how it will change their life. While he knows the athletes train and work hard to be their best, he recognizes that “most importantly the athletes enjoy the friendship, comradery and competition and knowing that they are just like everyone else, just out there to have a good time.”
ABOUT LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN
Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) is the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC). In 2016, more than 3,500 Southern California officers and 200 law enforcement agencies raised $1.5 million.
Globally known honorably as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the Flame of Hope™ into the Opening Ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. Annually, more than 97,000 dedicated and compassionate law enforcement members carry the Flame of Hope.™
LETR for Special Olympics engages law enforcement worldwide championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, starting first with their own communities. Over the years, the Torch Run has evolved and now encompasses a variety of innovative fundraising platforms to include Plane Pulls, Polar Plunges, Tip-A-Cops, and more. Since inception, LETR has raised more than half a billion dollars worldwide and changed millions of attitudes. As LETR Founder and retired Chief Richard LaMunyon once said, “What started in 1981…as a flicker of hope for Special Olympics has now become a roaring flame of stability for Special Olympics athletes worldwide.” Through the partnership of LETR and Special Olympics, we provide opportunities for athletes to empower and transform themselves, their communities and the world.
LETR is changing the future for people with intellectual disabilities and lighting the way for acceptance and inclusion. For more information, visit: www.SOSC.org/LETR