Lincoln Hills students hit the road for Special Olympics
Before coming to Lincoln Hills School, 17-year-old Tanner confessed that the only running he ever did was from the police.
But on Thursday, Tanner and two other students from the youth corrections facility made an 11-mile run from the school in Irma to Merrill’s Normal Park as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
“This is the first thing I’ve accomplished in my life that I’m proud of,” Tanner said.
When training for the run started in March, 30 students had volunteered. Only four completed the training program (one student who finished was unable to go off-campus for the run, but completed his run within the facility walls).
Ivan, 15, was the first to reach Normal Park. He was proud to have followed through with the program.
“I usually quit,” he said. “This time I wanted to start something and finish it, and I felt good about that.”
Ivan will be released later this month and plans to continue running and maybe even get into track in high school.
Jesse, 16, said he did it for himself and his family, some of whom met him at the park.
“I never thought I’d be able to accomplish something this big,” he said.
He has plans to straighten out his life when he goes home in three months.
“I’m going to get a job and be a better role model for my little brother,” he said. “That’s pretty much why I completed this.”
Knowing his family was waiting for him at the end got him through the run, he added.
For Tanner, the fitness benefits of training helped him shed more than 50 pounds. While losing weight was his initial reason for volunteering for the torch run, Tanner found another benefit from running.
“I couldn’t run a block before,” he said. “Running makes me feel better. I don’t have all that anger built up.”
Tanner, whose family members also met him at the park, will be going home Aug. 1. He’s getting his HSED at Lincoln Hills and will be looking for a job to support himself and his daughter. He plans to keep running and lose more weight.
Lincoln Hills staff, who had been participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, got students to participate starting in 2002.
“We wanted them to have a sense of accomplishment and a chance to give back a little bit,” said Bill Schroeder, who along with Jim Ferge, started the torch run program at Lincoln Hills.
The students who participate sell T-shirts to staff and the facility to raise money for Special Olympics. Last year’s donation was close to $1,000.