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Carrying the torch

Community: Law enforcement agencies help raise money for the Special Olympics during torch run

Posted: June 1, 2010 10:24 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2010 5:30 a.m.

Valencia resident Mike Johnson, 32, runs the second leg of a Special Olympics torch run on Tuesday, which was organized by several different law enforcement agencies. The 1.8-mile run began at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and ended at Valencia Heritage Park. The efforts of law enforcement agencies have helped raise approximately $9...

With a big grin, Ryan Latner, 23, took off from the starting line Tuesday with the Special Olympics torch in hand.

The Santa Clarita resident, who has Down syndrome and participates in several Special Olympics events, ran along Magic Mountain and McBean parkways in Valencia with 60 other people — many of them law enforcement officers — to raise money for the big event.

“It is a joy to watch, just to see smiles on their faces” said Diane Latner, Ryan’s mother.

Ryan’s father, Mark Latner, organized the run with some help from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the FBI and other agencies.

The 1.8-mile run started at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and ended at Valencia Heritage Park, on the corner of McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road.

After the run, Ryan had a huge smile on his face as he gripped the torch and posed for a group photo. 

The Latners were one several families at the event. Tod Wilson, 25, ran for the first time with his sister Tamara.

Tamara has Noonan syndrome; and she, like Ryan, was a veteran Special Olympian.

Tod said he tries to attend all of his sister’s events. Their mother, Terri Wilson, was there to cheer her children on. 

“It was so neat, you get emotional,” she said. 

Not everyone there had a personal connection to the cause.

“I come out every year to help the community. We believe in the Special Olympics,” said FBI Agent Patrick Baldree, who just wanted to show his support for the event. 

So far, law enforcement has raised $9,000 for the Special Olympics — about the same as last year, said Laura Mayo, regional director of the Special Olympics.


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