Representing Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC), retired Winston-Salem Police Department officer Claudia Morgan and Special Olympics Guilford County athlete Dustin Edmondson will join other law enforcement officers and athletes in the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Final Leg for Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event taking place in 2023, the World Games will be held June 17-25 in Berlin, Germany.
The Special Olympics Flame of Hope will be lit on June 7 in Athens, Greece, and will then travel through Germany before arriving ceremoniously at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, taking place June 17. The LETR Final Leg will be held June 14-17 in Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany. As Torch Runners, Morgan and Edmondson will promote the message of inclusion throughout 16 German states, running alongside fellow law enforcement officers and athletes.
Globally, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is an annual fundraising and public education campaign conducted by law enforcement personnel that raises millions of dollars for Special Olympics in countries around the world, with the strongest support being in the United States and Canada. Since its inception in 1981, nearly $1 billion has been raised. Over 100,000 law enforcement personnel make the Torch Run efforts a success, which helps Special Olympics fulfill its philosophy of never requiring its athletes to pay registration costs for their participation.
In 1992, Morgan joined the Winston-Salem Police Department, where she was first introduced to the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics North Carolina (NC LETR). For more than 20 years, Morgan has supported Special Olympics Forsyth County as a coach, volunteer and former member of the NC LETR State Council. After nearly 30 years of service, Morgan retired from the Community Resources Unit of the Winston-Salem Police Department and is still active in the Special Olympics movement, her selection as a Torch Runner a testament to her dedicated efforts.
“Obviously, it’s an honor,” said Morgan. “I’m humbled. I’ve done so much with Special Olympics. I’ve coached, I’ve been a state director for the NC LETR, I’m in the NC LETR Hall of Fame. I’ve been so humbled by everything, and it’s been such an honor to be selected for these positions.”
Following her retirement, Morgan returned to the Winston-Salem Police Department as a part-time specialist with the Community Resources Unit. She encourages fellow officers to learn about how their involvement in the NC LETR can impact the lives of Special Olympics athletes, like Dustin Edmondson.
“I’ve known Dustin for years,” said Morgan. “To see him out there running, even if I get tired, all I have to do is look over at him. His smile is so contagious, and his energy is going to push me to finish that run.”
Edmondson has been involved with Special Olympics since 2008, when he turned 8 years old. He joined the NC LETR movement in 2016 and was inducted as an Athlete Ambassador to the NC LETR State Council. Edmondson graduated from Western Carolina University in 2021, providing him the opportunity to expand his future academic, volunteer and career endeavors. He has become a leader in the communities he serves, giving speeches, fundraising and volunteering his time to support other Special Olympics athletes. He is one of five Special Olympics athletes selected to participate in the LETR Final Leg.
“The power of Special Olympics is more than just what happens on the field,” said Edmondson. “It’s about what happens in the community as a whole.”
On an international stage, Morgan and Edmondson will demonstrate the power of inclusion, keeping the Flame of Hope brightly lit.
About Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023
The Games will be the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event taking place in 2023, and the biggest multi-sport event in Berlin in decades. The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 will feature more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from over 190 countries who will compete in 26 Olympic-type summer sports across nine days of exciting and inspiring competitions, by athletes and for athletes.
About the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics North Carolina
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is an international fundraising campaign for Special Olympics. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition for more than 5.4 million children and adults around the world who have intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics in North Carolina, making it one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the world.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics North Carolina is officially endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff’s Association, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the National Association of School Resource Officers, the North Carolina Association of School Resource Officers, the North Carolina Department of Justice, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers year-round training and competition in 20 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports-based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.