Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Navajo public safety runs torch for Special Olympics

Navajo public safety runs torch for Special Olympics

By Jan-Mikael Patterson
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK – Six runners and four cyclists participated in this year’s Arizona Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Thursday.

The course traversed 11 miles from the top of the Summit, at the intersection of Navajo Route 2010 and Highway 264, to the Navajo Nation Veterans Memorial Park.

“It’s to raise awareness for the Special Olympics and law enforcement agencies to participate (internationally),” said Samantha Yazzie, a criminal investigator with the Window Rock District.

Yazzie has organized the run for 17 of her 24 years of service. About 20 participants took part this year as runners, cyclists, escorts, and traffic management.

“We used to have way more (participating),” Yazzie said, recalling a year where at least 60 officers participated. But because of patrol and investigative needs over the years the numbers fluctuate.

Crownpoint K-9 “Raica,” a Malinois handled by Officer Fred Peter Jr., participated on the way down from the Summit but disagreed with the heat.

“It got hot up there,” Peter said. “(Raica) only ran about a mile, and I carried him part of the way.”

Officers from the Crownpoint, Chinle, Shiprock, Kayenta, and Window Rock districts enjoyed the run. Members of the Navajo Fire Department and community members were also welcome to participate.

“It was a good run,” said Officer Matthew Carr of the Kayenta District. “I can’t wait for next year.”

Navajo President Buu Nygren wouldn’t let the opportunity go without his participation. He joined the running group at the Window Rock PD intersection, where he was handed the torch to jog with for the remainder of the run.

“I thought I was going to end up walking,” Nygren said. “Just as we were making it down the final stretch, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Keep going. Don’t walk.’”

Nygren is currently undergoing physical therapy for a horse-riding accident during the Western Navajo Fair parade last October, and so far has only been walking.

According to the Arizona Special Olympics website, more than 2,000 law enforcement officers participate statewide in this annual event from April 26 to May 14. Participating agencies are encouraged to post photos and videos of their runs on social media to support Special Olympics and its athletes.

Nationally, LETR is one of the largest grassroots fundraisers for the Special Olympics.


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