(Fremont County, Wyo.) – What do a Lander Police Officer and a Riverton Special Olympics athlete have in common? It was the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics held in New Jersey last weekend. Matt Koritnik is the police officer and Lewis Fancher is the athlete. Coincidentally, the event was held in Riverton, NJ, so the pair traveled from Riverton to Riverton and then returned to Riverton.
Koritnik provided Questions and Answers about the event;
Q: Why was this important for you to do?
A: Participating in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics was important to me because it gives law enforcement officers an opportunity to support the Special Olympic Athletes and raise awareness for the Special Olympics. It is important that we support Special Olympics and focus on what the athletes CAN do and not what they can’t.
Q: What was your experience like?
A: Amazing! It was the most powerful thing I have ever been a part of. This past week was the BEST week of my life. It was a very humbling experience. I had no idea what to expect on my way to New Jersey. I knew what Special Olympics was and I had participated locally here in Wyoming with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, but I did not realize how truly amazing the bond between law enforcement and Special Olympics really is until I arrived in New Jersey and had the privilege of running with officers from each of the 50 states. We had one law enforcement officer from each state running in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run. It was an honor to carry the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremony and I look forward to being a Guardian of the Flame for many years to come.
Q: Where was the final leg of the race held?
A: We kicked off the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in New York City at the Fox News Studios on the Fox & Friends Morning Show. From there we ran to Times Square then to the 9-11 Memorial, then to the Statue of Liberty. From there we split into 3 routes. My team ran from Philadelphia, Penn., to the Liberty Bell, over the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. From there we ran through across the state of New Jersey and carried the flame to the opening ceremonies at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Q: How many times have you participated in the past?
A: I first became involved in Special Olympics in 2010 when I was in college at the University of Wyoming. I was asked to volunteer at the Wyoming Summer Games for Special Olympics as a basketball official. It was a great experience and I was hooked. When I started my law enforcement career in 2011, I became involved in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. I was able to participate in carrying the torch to the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne in 2013 and participate in the Wyoming Final Leg in 2013. Also in 2013 I organized the first ever Torch Run for Special Olympics in my hometown of Lovell. I was so humbled to have been selected to represent the Great State of Wyoming in the Final Leg of the USA Games in New Jersey.
Q: I remember you saying you ran/took someone with you. Who was that person and why was it important for you to compete with that person?
A: I traveled to New Jersey with runner and Special Olympics Athlete Lewis Fancher from Riverton. It was important for me to run with Lewis because we run for the athletes and it is our mission to support them. The law enforcement officers partner with the athletes and we will do anything to raise awareness for them and support them.
Q: If someone is wanting to get involved with Special Olympics, how can they do so?
A: If someone wants to become involved in Special Olympics they can go to www.specialolympicswy.org and click on the Get Involved link. Anyone can become involved in Special Oympics here in Wyoming as volunteer, coach or sponsor. We have Summer, Fall and Winter Games so there is always something to help with. The mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics is to increase awareness and raise funds for the Special Olympics movement.
In 2013 the Law Enforcement Torch Run raised over $46.3 million dollars for Special Olympics nationwide.
–Provided by Kevin Koritnik and Lewis Fancher