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Knoxville police officer selected to represent Special Olympics Tennessee in Berlin
September 10, 2022, 9:26 p.m.

  Dean Ray Knoxville police officer
Dean Ray, Knoxville police officer

KNOXVILLE -- Special Olympics Tennessee and Law Enforcement Torch Run are proud to announce that Knoxville police officer Dean Ray has been selected to participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg® for Special Olympics at the Special Olympics 2023 World Games in Berlin next June. Ray will be the only representative from Tennessee and one of only 125 law enforcement officers worldwide to be a part of the Final Leg Team.

Ray, who currently serves as a School Resource Officer, has been with the Knoxville Police Department for over 25 years. He has spent most of his time with the Patrol Division where he was a K-9 handler for 10 years. Ray has participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the past five years and became involved with Special Olympics Tennessee when his daughter Madison became an athlete eight years ago.

“I'm in shock, it's a great honor to be selected for the World Games Torch Run Final Leg and I’m looking forward to this great opportunity,” said Ray. To promote inclusion and provide a chance for these athletes to compete in real sports as part of an actual team…I can’t put a price on the smile on an athlete’s face during Special Olympic events, especially seeing my daughter participate like everyone else.”

“Dean’s commitment to our Law Enforcement Torch Run program, and Special Olympics in general, made him an easy choice to represent Tennessee in the Final Leg Torch Run,” said Jennifer McAfee, Law Enforcement Torch Run Director for Special Olympics Tennessee. “I am excited for Dean as he gets to be a part of such an amazing event.”

This Torch Run event is called the Final Leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the World. The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the World who will compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes who comprise the Torch Run Final Leg Team. Each year in Tennessee, law enforcement officials carry the Flame of Hope across the state culminating with the Torch Run Final Leg, and the lighting of the cauldron to officially open the Special Olympics State Summer Games in Nashville.

As an important part of each World Games, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg® for Special Olympics will heighten awareness and take the message of Special Olympics to all 16 states in Germany. Law Enforcement officials and Special Olympics athletes, unified as a part of the Final Leg Team, will serve as true Guardians of the Flame™ and promote the powerful messages of inclusion, acceptance and ability, every step of our Final Leg journey to promote the 2023 World Summer Games.

Learn more about Special Olympics World Games here. Learn more about the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg here.

About Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the Flame of Hope into Opening Ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. Annually more than 100,000 dedicated and compassionate law enforcement members carry the “Flame of Hope,” symbolizing courage and celebration of diversity uniting community around the globe. The LETR for Special Olympics engages law enforcement worldwide championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, starting first with their own communities. Over the years the Torch Run has evolved and now encompasses a variety of innovative fundraising platforms to include Polar Plunges, Tip-A-Cops, throwdowns,’ Pulling for a Purpose and more. Since its inception, LETR has raised over $940 million for Special Olympics.

About Special Olympics Tennessee
Special Olympics Tennessee (SOTN) is a state chapter of Special Olympics North America, a part of Special Olympics International. The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. SOTN offers 17 Olympic-style sports and is composed of 36 areas covering the entire state with volunteer leaders managing activities in those districts. Its state office is in Nashville.

Special Olympics Tennessee is a registered 501(c)(3), non-profit organization supported by private donations from individuals, corporations and organizations throughout the state. Special Olympics is “the most credible charity in America” according to a survey in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Learn more about Special Olympics Tennessee.

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