A group of law enforcement officers ran through the Tri-Cities overnight on a cross-state trip to raise awareness for Special Olympics.
"The ultimate goal is to raise money through the Law Enforcement Torch Run Campaign, but what we're striving for is to raise awareness," said Kennewick police Detective Sgt. Randy Maynard.
Maynard is part of a 13-member team -- 12 officers and a Special Olympics athlete -- taking turns running as they make their way to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where the games will be held. Opening ceremonies start Friday night.
The runners started at 4 a.m. Wednesday on Highway 12 at the Idaho state line. They were expected to reach Kennewick about midnight.
They went through town to Richland, into Prosser and were to continue west to Yakima, which they expect to reach sometime between 9 and 11 a.m. today.
The relay team then will run over White Pass to Morton and work their way to the Lakewood Police Department, where they'll meet up with other Law Enforcement Torch Run Teams and complete the last three miles onto the base together.
Each runner on the team is responsible for three five-mile legs and five three-mile legs, Maynard said.
"We're not running in uniform ... and I know it looks weird to have somebody running down the road with a marked police car behind them with their lights on," he told the Herald. "Know that we're doing this to support Special Olympics."
Except for a dead car battery at the start of the excursion, Maynard said things have gone smoothly so far on the almost 400-mile trip.
This is the team's ninth year completing the cross-state run.
Team members this year from Kennewick police are: Maynard, Detective Rick Runge, Criminal Apprehension Team detectives Sherrill Veitenheimer and Roman Trujillo, Cpl. Matt Newton, and officers Stan Howard, Miguel Ayala and Lee Cooper.
Also running this year are: Benton County sheriff's Deputy Horacio Gonzales, Hanford Patrolman Dan Irish, Union Gap police Sgt. Monty McNeary, Kent police Officer Howard Engledow and Special Olympics athlete Andy Bryant.
Bryant, 30, of Seattle, is a marathon runner and competes in running events at the Special Olympics. He also was selected to run the final leg of the run in next year's Special Olympics World Game in South Korea.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; email@example.com