The Guardians of the Flame ran through Gonzales today carrying the Flame of Hope as part of the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. The 5K run began at the Gonzales Municipal Park and concluded at the Arc of East Ascension, where participants enjoyed a day of food and celebration with COEA members.
The Torch Run is an effort between the Special Olympics and state law enforcement agencies to raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics of Louisiana. The torch was carried throughout the state by various law enforcement officials and community members, officially opening up the 2017 Special Olympics Summer Games in Hammond.
Runners included Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, Gonzales Police Department, St. Amant High Volleyball team, Gonzales Fire Department and various community members from the area.
"This is why we do it, for the athletes, for the people right out here who don't have the opportunity to do it," said APSO Detective Bob Escamilla. "We are doing it for them. The guys that ran, it was tough, it was hard but it is a little bit of a sacrifice for what they go through every day."
Sixteen year old Jaren Vargas was this year's torch runner, carrying the flame on the three mile run through the city. The East Ascension High School special education student said he really enjoyed the experience of getting to hold the torch.
Jaren's mother, Vicki Vargas, said his seven siblings all participate in sports and to be able to see him do the same is an indescribable feeling.
"To see him be able to participate in the Olympics, to have him be able to have his day means the world," she said.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is just one of many events sponsored by local law enforcement. Earlier this year they participated in the annual Polar Plunge where they raised thousands of dollars for the Special Olympics.