Carrying the torch: Louisville community runs for Special Olympics

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – People in Louisville kicked off their morning running for a good cause.

This is the second year the city has come together for the Law Enforcement Torch Run For Special Olympics.

The run is a global movement to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympic Athletes.

Runners across Mississippi are carrying the flame for the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

This year the torch’s route took it through Louisville.

For Chief Sean Holdiness, the Torch Run holds extra special significance.

“I have a son with special needs and when you have a child with special needs basically all of our families do stuff together and participate in all kinds of events. This is a big segment of our population and this shows them that we love them and we are there to support them in everything,” said Holdiness.

The chief said that his son has even been able to help the department work better with the community.

“My son is autistic and because of my son they are used to dealing with him and that also gives my officers the opportunity to be around people with special needs and know how to deal with people with special needs,” said Holdiness.

The chief said that his department is working to better recognize the full range of mental abilities and mental health issues that they could come in contact with on the job.

“Not only do you have to identify people like my son with autism but with the drug epidemic like it is and figuring out which avenue you are going to go down and that’s what has changed so much in law enforcement in the last 30 years. There are so many varying degrees of someone’s mental health. We are not very well trained to identify those individuals and we have had to really concentrate on training,” said Holdiness.

Assistant Chief Ed Hunt said their community is stronger together and they hope to be a positive role model to all children.

“This gives them a positive outlook that we are not always negative. We do good things in the community and good things for people in the community and we want to reach out to the kids with special needs and let them know they are a part of us, too,” said Hunt.

This year’s Special Olympics Summer Games start Friday in Biloxi.

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