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Lebanon staff continue Special Olympics support with run

Photo by Sarah Brown
LEBANON POLICE and city staffers embark on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Friday, July 13. From left, they are Casey McMillin, Andy Roy, Dala Johnson, Isaac Hurst, Josiah Hurst, Allison Hurst, Jenna Hurst, Ethan Hurst, Brent Hurst and Kevin Buchheit.

Every year, the Lebanon Police Department participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a fund-raiser for Special Olympics Oregon.

Despite the 2018 summer state games being suspended this year due to insufficient funds, that didn’t stop Lebanon police from continuing the tradition of running the torch from Sweet Home to Hwy 99.

The torch run is one of many fund-raisers LPD holds throughout the year; others are Tip a Cop, Polar Plunge, and Plane Pull, said Dala Johnson, community policing officer at LPD. All the funds raised go to the SOOR state office.

“The Oregon Law Enforcement Torch Run continues to support our Special Olympics athletes, and our mission remains unchanged: to raise funds for and awareness of Special Olympics Oregon, as well as promote inclusion for persons with intellectual disabilities,” said Sgt. Joel Goodwin, past chair of the LETR for SOOR, in an announcement.

After a new CEO recently stepped into her role at SOOR, it was discovered that the organization was several years behind on payments, Johnson explained.

That caused the CEO to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event, she said.

“It’s just the summer games,” Johnson noted. “Because there’s such a huge cost in running the summer games, they felt (suspending that) would help recoup some of those losses so we could get back on track and have it next year.”

Special Olympics continues to operate, however, and regional programs will still do their own events, she said.

“I’m gonna be meeting with the Lebanon Special Olympics to see if we can get the Linn County to maybe do some kind of regional for our area so that the athletes don’t feel like they were cheated,” Johnson said.

In the 35 years Johnson has been involved at LPD and SOOR, she’s seen SOOR go through two other times of financial difficulties, but it always works out.

“I think this new CEO is really ambitious and she’s gonna be good for the growth of Oregon Special Olympics,” Johnson said.