Officers running to the State Capital

Law Enforcement Torch Run finishes final leg at the State Capitol

Story by OPEC staff
Photos by Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
On a warm Friday morning in Sacramento, the Law Enforcement Torch Run ended on the north steps of the State Capitol. Numerous Special Olympics athletes, law enforcement personnel and CDCR staff were on hand for the brief ceremony.
David Solo, president and CEO for Special Olympics of Northern California, said he’s grateful for the support of all the law enforcement agencies.

“We’re very blessed that Special Olympics is the charity of choice for law enforcement worldwide,” he said, calling the support and donations critical to the organization’s operation. “We don’t charge any fees for our athletes to participate. As a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of our community. … CDCR is the number one fundraising agency in the Law Enforcement Torch Run.”

Undersecretary Toche speaks about CDCR's involvement in the torch run.

Undersecretary Toche speaks about CDCR’s involvement in the torch run.

Diana Toche, Undersecretary of Health Care Services for CDCR, said she became involved because of a friend’s daughter, who is a Special Olympics athlete.
“Just to see the happiness that Special Olympics brings to folks is inspiring,” she said.
Undersecretary Diana Toche and Warden Joe Lizarraga are introduced during the ceremony on the Capitol steps.

Undersecretary Diana Toche and Warden Joe Lizarraga are introduced
during the ceremony on the Capitol steps.

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow listens during the opening remarks of the ceremony.

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow listens
during the opening remarks of the ceremony.

 
Therese Giannelli, Community Resources Manager with CSP-Sacramento, was named 2016 Volunteer of the Year for Special Olympics of Northern California.
Therese Giannelli, an employee with CSP- Sacramento was named volunteer of the year for 2016. Allie Powell, Public Information Officer with the Office of Public and Employee Communications interviews her during a Facebook Live broadcast.

Therese Giannelli, an employee with CSP- Sacramento was named volunteer of the year for 2016. Allie Powell, Public Information Officer with the Office of Public and Employee Communications interviews her during a Facebook Live broadcast.

“It’s a huge honor. There are so many deserving people who volunteer countless hours,” she said. “(Inmates) donated over $8,000 per year in addition to what our staff does, which is probably another $6,000 to $8,000 being raised (at CSP-Sacramento).”
Jonathan Sparks, athlete with Special Olympics, sang the National Anthem during the Capitol ceremony.

Jonathan Sparks, athlete with Special Olympics, sang the National Anthem
during the Capitol ceremony.

“I do swimming. Yes, I am excited (for the games),” Sparks said. “(I’m excited) mainly for Special Olympics (since) this is how (it) financially survives. They raise money by the Torch Run, by the Tip-a-Cops, and other fundraisers. At the Summer Games tonight at UC Davis, they have an honor wall, so as the athletes come through, the law enforcement officers give the athletes high fives, which is very cool.”
Sparks has been involved with Special Olympics since the 1970s. Holly Stewart, OPEC employee helps with Facebook Live.

Sparks has been involved with Special Olympics since the 1970s. Holly Stewart, OPEC employee helps with Facebook Live.

Sparks has been involved with Special Olympics since the 1970s. Holly Stewart, OPEC employee helps with Facebook Live.
Learn more about the nonprofit organization at SpecialOlympics.org.