COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— First responders, active military personnel and members of the community got their steps in bright and early Tuesday morning for a good cause.

The Columbus Police Department hosted its 40th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run benefiting Special Olympics Georgia.

More than 60 runners made the near five-mile trek from the Public Safety Building to Lake Oliver Marina.

According to CPD, this is the largest fundraising event benefitting Special Olympics.

In years past, they’ve raised an average of $20,000 annually. Ahead of the run on behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Greg Countryman donated $2,500 directly to Special Olympics Georgia.

Sgt. Angela Florence with the Columbus Police Department says this event does more than raise funds, it helps spread awareness and support.

“You can see each officer that is here today, they’re excited. They have smiles on their face because they know that the group of people that we’re raising funds for those with intellectual disabilities may not have an opportunity to compete in other things,” Sgt. Florence said. “So, they know that law enforcement supports them.”

Agencies represented in Tuesday morning’s run included folks from the Columbus Police Department, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus Fire & EMS, Fort Benning, and even WRBL as our very own Chief of Photography Kevin Roble ran.

Sgt. Dan Lyon with the Columbus Police Department has been participating in this run for the last 10 years. He says this run not only raises funds, but also camaraderie between all of the agencies represented.

“This was probably one of the biggest turnouts that I’ve been in for the past ten years. It’s great to have all the people from Fort Benning and other agencies. It is great to see all the other agencies and different people wearing different clothes out here,” Sgt. Lyon said. “Just to see everybody get together in the community, to see us out here running for a great cause.”

Ret. Sgt. Donald Bush with the Columbus Police Department has in some capacity been involved in this run since 1997. As a current organizer, he asks the community to continue and show their support.

“It’s just one of the things that we, the Columbus Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department, and all law enforcement in the state of Georgia love giving back,” Ret. Sgt. Bush said. “And that’s all this is about. If you have the opportunity to go see the games, please go see them in Atlanta for support. Go support, go support.”

Special Olympics Georgia is happening May 19-21 at Emory University in Atlanta. The 2023 State Summer Games will feature competitions in Athletics, Cheerleading, Swimming, Gymnastics, Flag Football, Soccer, Table Tennis, Tennis, and Volleyball.

If anyone missed Tuesday morning’s run and wants to help raise funds for Special Olympics Georgia by grabbing some gear, head over to the Public Safety Building located at 510 10th Street. Donations can be made there as well.