17 HPD officers, including Nestor Garcia carry the torch To help raise $1.5 million for Special Olympics in Texas in 2018

Tom Kennedy

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), an annual running event involving law enforcement officers, called special attention to Special Olympics and its participants in May and succeeded in raising $1.5 million from throughout Texas in 2018.

Seventeen HPD officers participated in runs through Texas cities and towns that culminated at the University of Texas-Arlington Maverick Stadium in Arlington, the site of this year’s Special Olympics state meet.

The HPD element was coordinated by HPD Officer Tracie Mathews-Segura, who also represented the Houston Police Department and the state of Texas at the Special Olympics USA National Games in late June in Seattle.

“The Special Olympic USA National games are held every four years,” Mathews-Segura told the Badge & Gun. “The Special Olympics had its 2018 national games in Seattle, Washington. I participated in the Law Enforcement Final Leg which included running through Washington State” She was still recovering from the thrill of it all. Officer Mathews-Segura added “My trip to Seattle was one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of as a Police Officer.” Mathews-Segura

Not to mention her hard work. For the state meet in Arlington and the accompanying fundraising torch run, Mathews-Segura took the lead in organizing 17 HPD officers as well as more than 100 from Houston area law enforcement agencies for the three-day run the last few days of May.

Officers run together in a group through several towns from Houston to Arlington, with Each officer taking turns carrying the lighted  torch which represents the “Flame of Hope,” enduring its warmth in the early portion of a typical Texas summer.

Mathews-Segura said that a very moving moment in Arlington came when HPD Officer Nestor Garcia, who nearly lost his life to a drunken driver in a Sept. 27 accident on the Southwest Freeway, took his turn with the torch.

“He was actually cleared to go and be a part of the HPD Torch Run team,” she explained. “He actually did the torch run with us and completed the entire torch run with everybody. Early Friday morning in Arlington in front of Officers from all over the state,. he got up and shared his story with everybody.”

By his own account, Garcia said he almost lost his life in the accident, after which the driver involved was charged with intoxication assault of a public servant.

“It was a nice highlight to see him out supporting the Special Olympics, myself along with others were greatly moved by his positive spirit and determination” Mathews-Segura said.

Besides HPD, there were officers from such police agencies as Galveston PD, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado County Sheriff’s Office, Sugar Land PD, Rosenberg PD, Bellaire PD, Meadows Place PD, Webster PD, Harris County Pct. 5 Constable, Harris County Pct. 1 Constable, Montgomery County Pct. 4 Constable, West University Place PD, UT Police Houston, UT Police Galveston, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, Brenham PD, Palestine PD, Huntsville PD, the FBI and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Mathews-Segura said, “I am very proud of the Houston Police Department and its Officers, with the continued leadership and support it has shown with our local Special Olympic Athletes.”