By 8 a.m. Wednesday Dana Kinsley was on site at the old elementary school to register Law Enforcement Torch Run participants. Approximately an hour and 20 minutes later Robert Dudley was receiving high fives from Greensville Elementary School students after completing the 2.5 mile trek from South Main St. to Greensville Elementary School.
Coming in behind Dudley was Kyle Harvey, 13, of Courtland. He was not the only runner from outside the Emporia-Greensville area to participate. In fact, Jerry Tyler and Al Cooper crossed state lines to be a part of the 2019 Law Enforcement Torch Run. Tyler was raised in Emporia but now lives in Weldon, N.C. Cooper travelled a little further coming all the way from Hollister, N.C. in the southwestern region of Halifax County.
“I always wanted to run in one of these and my friend Dudley invited me to come over and run,” Cooper said.
The Torch Run is a charity fundraiser for the Virginia Special Olympics. The Emporia Police Department has been a part of a local Torch Run since the early 1980s. The Wednesday Law Enforcement Torch Run was just one of many hosted throughout the Commonwealth that culminated in the Special Olympics Virginia games on Friday and Saturday in Richmond.
The runners had plenty of support from the start of the event to the finish line. The Special Olympics Torch Run Car and several police officers in police vehicles and bicycles escorted the runners to Greensville Elementary School. Vanessa Bailey and June Rae had a water station set up at the midway point providing bottles of water to runners needing hydration before running the final leg of the event.
Dudley started the event with the Torch in hand, but he handed off the Torch to Jean Cobb and Officer Dave Shidell. Cobb handed the Torch to Tucker Stewart as he was rounding the corner to run toward the line of waiting elementary school students.
“We used to finish up at the blinking lights with the kids lined alongside the road,” Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw said. “This is the third year the students have been lined up in the parking lot to meet the runners.”
Brenda Robinson added some extra distance to her run. She was scheduled to teach a fitness class at 10 a.m. at the Family YMCA of Emporia-Greensville. Robinson greeted the students at the finish line, circled the school and continued running until she reached her YMCA destination.
No participant ran further than Robinson Wednesday. In fact, some participants hardly ran at all and chose to walk the course. It did not matter. The Law Enforcement Torch Run was not a competition. Whether one ran, walked or did a little of both, it was all for the cause of raising proceeds for Special Olympics. Virginia and that mission was completed.