Special Olympics starts today at WSU

Today marks the start of the 40th Kansas Special Olympics Summer Games, most of which will take place on the campus of Wichita State University.

All competitions, which finish Sunday, are free and open to the public. Events include track and field, powerlifting, cycling, swimming, gymnastics and tennis.

For the opening ceremonies, law enforcement officers will run from the Sedgwick County Courthouse to Cessna Stadium as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. There, they will light the cauldron with Bekah Henderson, who was last summer's most inspirational athlete.

Officer David Nienstedt, south-central regional coordinator for the run, said all the money raised through the Torch Run in Kansas stays to benefit Kansas Special Olympics.

Last year, Nienstedt said, Kansas officers raised more than $354,000 through different fundraisers. This year, officers have until the end of August to meet their goal of $375,000.

"We're looking pretty good," Nienstedt said. "I think we're going to make our goal."

The Torch Run began in Wichita in 1981 with six runners. It has since grown to all 50 states and to many foreign countries, where thousands of law enforcement officers raise millions of dollars annually to benefit Special Olympics programs.

To donate to the Torch Run, visit www.kansastorchrun.org.