If you happened to be traveling on CTH K north of the city Thursday morning, and observed what appeared to be teenagers on the run, dressed in green T-shirts and being followed an SUV from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office with it’s emergency lights activated, rest easy.
What you were seeing was the procession of the 14th annual Special Olympics Torch Run by students from Lincoln Hills School.
Of the twenty students who initially signed up to participate in the 10 mile run, four were granted final clearance to leave the facility in Irma and due to unfortunate injury, two of the four finished the run Tuesday morning. According to co-organizer and facility Recreation Director Barb Ament, the the program seeks to achieve several goals by getting students involved.
Topping the list is responsibilty and commitment.
“To qualify for the program requires pretty strict criteria,” she stated.
“One of the biggest factors is having achieved a certain level in terms of behavior. If they have any sort of recent violations or reports, students are excluded from participating. That’s part of being responsible. Once students are accepted, they are expected to commit themselves to to seeing the course of the program through to the end, with little room for error.”
Prior to Thursday’s run, students participated in training and conditioning by running a half-mile loop around the facility, 4-5 days a week. If a student were to miss ‘practice’ for any reason, the end result was immediate disqualification.
As 19-year old Kenosha native ‘Keyondra’ explains, the program is far from easy and commitment was a challenge at times.
“It was tough sometimes but it’s something I really wanted to do and I just made myself stick it out you know. Thats how life is sometimes, you just have to learn to stick it out and get things done. It’s a good way to give back too. The Special Olympics is a pretty cool organization and do a lot in communities.”
“Its a way for us to help give back. We did things that really affected our communities and this is a cool way to give back and try to make up for some things.”
16-year old Hartford, Wis native Kullyn, was especially proud of the fact of he and his counterpart running the entire length of the 10 mile stretch.
“We stopped for a few breaks but we didn’t walk at all,” he adds with a grin as he catches his breath and wipes a few beads of sweat from his forehead.
“It’s a good feeling to finish what we started you know. It felt good to push myself to keep running.”
“I’ll sleep pretty good this afternoon, that’s for sure!” he adds with a laugh.