Students from Lincoln Hills School participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Thursday by running the 11 miles from the facility in Irma to Normal Park in Merrill.
Of the more than 40 students who signed up to do the run, 11 completed the training. Six of them were approved to go off-grounds for the run to Merrill, while five will make a run the following day within the Lincoln Hills grounds. The students have been training for the run for about three months with LHS physical education teacher Barb Ament.
“I hope they learn to follow through with things,” Ament said. “Running is such a wonderful lifetime sport that keeps them fit mentally and physically.”
All six runners completed the run to Merrill Thursday, while it was easier for some than others.
Luis, 21, finished the run well ahead of the others. He said this was his longest run ever, and just three months ago he wouldn’t have made it.
“I learned that if I put my mind to it and set goals for myself I can accomplish it,” he said.
Luis, who will be released from LHS in October, plans to go back to working in a barbershop. He wants to take business classes so he can open his own shop.
For Donavin, 17, the run wasn’t so easy. “It was hell,” he said. “That was a hard-ass run.” But, he made it through the entire distance thanks in part to the determination he learned through training.
“I never did nothing like that before,” he said. “It got a little easier, the training helps a lot.”
Donavin will be going home in 11 days. His plans for the future include working, staying out of trouble and to continue running.
Frank, 15, has participated in runs before. “I like running, it’s something to keep you busy,” he said.
Frank will be released in the fall and plans to keep running, go to college and have a career.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department serves as an escort for the LHS runners. They were met at the park by a Merrill Police Department squad car as well. 
Lincoln Hills has participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics for many years. The project was started by now-retired LHS physical education teacher Jim Ferge, who started by doing the run on his own. Other staff members joined him and later he got permission for the students to participate as well. 
As part of the project, the students learn about Special Olympics and what their efforts support. Some of the students sold t-shirts to staff at the facility to raise money for Special Olympics.