Captain Al Labrada of the Los Angeles Police Department sees pride and joy when he watches the athletes of Special Olympics Southern California. There’s a palpable competitive spirit among the athletes as they “challenge one another,” but also an equal respect afterward.
Labrada, the Patrol Commanding Officer for the Hollenbeck Area, is gearing up to create his very own Special Olympics memory. He will be one of 47 law enforcement officers representing 47 states, along with six Special Olympics athletes, on the Final Leg team for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“I was really honored just to be nominated, to be honest,” Labrada said. “I was notified by one of our chiefs that I was actually selected as one of the representatives for law enforcement in Southern California. It’s a great honor because there are so many officers involved, tens of thousands officers in Southern California.”
Since the first USA Games in 2006, law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from across the country have teamed up to carry the Flame of Hope in the LETR Final Leg and usher the start of competition. The Final Leg team’s journey across Washington state will take place from June 27-July 1, concluding at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium for the Opening Ceremony.
Labrada first got involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run eight years ago. His first experience was at Summer Games, welcoming in the athletes along the track.
He took notice of his fellow officers who had children and other family members involved as athletes. That’s when it all clicked.
“I realized then how important it is to many families, to be able to have something for their athletes… to participate in,” Labrada said.
In those eight years of experience, Labrada has an idea of just how big an event like USA Games and the Torch Run can be. When Los Angeles hosted the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, he was part of the lead committee that organized 12 ceremonies in 12 different locations, in one day, throughout the council districts leading up to the arrival of the torch.
He’s also helped make an impact in the department’s increased participation in Tip-A-Cop fundraisers and the annual Plane Pull, as well as other fundraising events for Special Olympics Southern California.
Help show your support for Special Olympics Southern California and Captain Labrada by donating to his fundraising page.