Final Leg Gets Things Started

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The 49th annual Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) Summer Games will take place June 9-10 on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. The Opening Ceremony will begin on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. However, it will not start without the Flame of Hope, and its journey through roughly 900 miles of Southern California begins on Tuesday, May 29 with a pair of special kick-off events.

Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics kickoff ceremony, celebrating the partnership with United Airlines, will take place at Los Angeles International Airport starting at 10 a.m. Local law enforcement executives, including Airport Police Department Chief David Maggard and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell will welcome the Flame of Hope as it is carried into the ceremony by local law enforcement officers, Special Olympics athletes and United Airlines employees.

Maggard and McDonnell will be joined by SOSC President and CEO Bill Shumard, United Airlines executives and other local dignitaries to celebrate this new and unique partnership.

San Diego County law enforcement agencies carrying the Flame of Hope through San Diego County will get things started at the annual Ceremonial Lighting of the Torch at the Chula Vista Police Department Memorial Wall (315 Fourth Ave.). The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by the first leg of the annual Final Leg Torch Run at 10:15 a.m.

The event will include San Diego County law enforcement agencies, which include San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Carlsbad, Coronado, Oceanside, La Mesa, U.S. Border Patrol, the FBI, CHP, DEA, U.S. Marshals, San Diego Sheriff’s Dept., UCSD Police Department, CSUSM Police Department, District Attorney’s Office, Department of Homeland Security, California Department of Corrections and more.


For 37 years, law enforcement has been the single largest grass roots fundraising effort for Special Olympics, raising nearly $700 million for its athletes around the world. United Airlines is partnering with the Law Enforcement Torch Run as its lead sponsor for the event, which spans Southern California from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

Every year, law enforcement officers throughout Southern California commit themselves to the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, raising both awareness and money for Special Olympics Southern California. More than 3,500 officers will assist in carrying the Flame of Hope across nearly 900 miles before ending at the Summer Games.

The torch will travel four legs through Southern California this year – a Northern Leg (San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles counties), Central Leg (Los Angeles county including downtown LA), a Southern Leg (San Diego, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties) and for the first time an Eastern Leg (Kern County).

The kickoff ceremonies begin the annual trek of the Flame of Hope as law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes will carry the torch in more than 200 communities throughout Southern California.  The Final Leg Torch Run will culminate at the Opening Ceremony of Summer Games on June 9. There are multiple locations that are ideal to watch the pageantry of the torch run. Route maps can be found by clicking specific route above or on


More than 1,100 SOSC athletes will compete at the 2018 Summer Games on June 9-10. More than 10,000 local dignitaries, corporate sponsors, volunteers, spectators and family members are expected to attend to cheer the athletes on and celebrate acceptance and inclusion for all.  Admission to all events is free. This year’s Summer Games will kick-off the 50th anniversary celebration for SOSC. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. The first Special Olympics International Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, on July 20, 1968. Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson founded the Western/California Regional Chapter in 1969 with the first Summer Games on July 26, 1969 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. For more information, visit


Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, and leadership programs. Special Olympics helps athletes become more independent, build self-esteem, and live healthier lives. They inspire people to open their hearts and create more accepting and inclusive communities. All Special Olympics programs are free to the athletes and their families. Learn more at


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. Individuals interested in supporting the efforts of LETR can go to


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