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Deputies run for smiles

Officials participate in 10th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

Posted: June 3, 2009 10:31 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Marisa Watkins, followed by her fellow California Highway Patrol officers, runs to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station Wednesday afternoon for the 10th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Santa Clarita Valley law enforcement officers ran to raise money on Wednesday.

Local sheriff's deputies and others carried a torch on a jog across the western Santa Clarita Valley to raise funds for the Special Olympics.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies from the Pitchess Detention Center and the SCV Sheriff's Station ran in the relay, along with California Highway Patrol officers and FBI agents. The run began in front of the detention center and ended at Old Orchard Park in Newhall.

Law enforcement groups in the Santa Clarita Valley typically raise about $35,000 a year for the Special Olympics, said Laura Mayo, SCV regional director for the Special Olympics.

"It's a great group of people to work with," she said.

Deputy Artie Thompson, who has participated in the charity event for at least 15 years, organized the run for the SCV Sheriff's Station. About 10 deputies joined him on the 3-mile run.

Thompson said a neighbor with special needs inspired him to try to help.

"I'm sympathetic and empathetic to people who have those issues," Thompson said.

The Special Olympic games will be held at California State University, Long Beach on June 13 and 14.

Nearly a dozen California Highway Patrol officers from the Newhall Station also ran in the torch relay, including recently retired Sgt. Ben Dibene, who has attended nearly every run in the last decade.

"(We do it for) the kids. What more can we say?" Dibene said. "We give them 45 minutes of our day and we see the kids smile. To see the kids smile - it's priceless."


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