20 HPD officers take part in carrying “Flame of Hope in Benefit run from here to Arlington for the Special Olympics

Tom Kennedy

Talk about rallying the troops! HPD Officer Tracie Mathews-Segura and her fellow officers rounded up more than 100 law enforcement personnel from throughout the Greater Houston area (and beyond) to start a three-day run all the way to Arlington to benefit the Special Olympics.

Each officer will take turns carrying the lighted “Flame of Hope,” enduring its warmth in the early portion of a typical Texas summer.

Arlington’s University of Texas-Arlington Maverick Stadium was the site of this year’s Special Olympics (the state meet), which lasted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or May 25-27.

The event involving the law enforcement officers was termed the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which is undertaken every year to call attention to Special Olympics participants and raise money for the organization at every stop along the run. Since last June, Houston’s East Region has raised $234,985. But since 1985 the LETR has amassed more than $27.8 million in all of Texas or about $1.5 million annually. All of it goes to the Special Olympics.

This latest fundraising effort increased those amounts to support the sporting activities of more than 42,000 men, women and children.

“We will arrive in Arlington on Friday evening in time for the opening ceremony,” Mathews-Segura told the Badge & Gun. “Officers will be coming from the four regions in Texas. We have our total of 21 HPD officers but the group from our region is not just HPD but every agency in our area.”

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.

When you hear the route, you might get tired, although the officers did not run every mile from Houston to Arlington. Mathews-Segura explained that they usually run the final two miles into the towns along the route.

Time was, she said, when the torch-bearing officers ran every mile but the heat, humidity and resulting traffic jams became too much of a safety hazard.

The circuitous route began in Third Ward’s Emancipation Park Wednesday morning (May 23) and included a side trip to Blackshear Elementary School before officially heading north to Navasota, Bryan/College Station

From College Station it’s back to Brenham, where the officers are treated like kings and queens when the fundraising auction is held and Blue Bell officials serve free ice cream. Mathews-Segura remembered past years when Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse (now retired) made some high bids, supported other bidders and made sure everybody had enough ice cream to cool off.

“We stay in Brenham for that barbecue dinner and the auction,” she explained. “We turn in the proceeds to Special Olympics.”

Then they went to Conroe on the way to Huntsville, Palestine and then up to Arlington.

The group continued to experience “care and feeding” all along this great Texas route.

The Houston met groups of law enforcement torch runners from the other regions such as Corpus Christi, San Antonio “and all over the place,” Mathews-Segura said.

Mathews-Segura will be the Texas law enforcement representative at the Special Olympics USA World Games this summer in Seattle.