RALEIGH (WTVD) -- During this time of year is usually when Special Olympic athletes are gearing up for summer games, the largest state-level competition.
"Special Olympics gives me a place to be myself," said Kristin Hughes. "I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm going to be accepted or not as an athlete and I get to meet some great people."
This is also a time when typically thousands of law enforcement personnel participate in torch run relays raising money and awareness for Special Olympics.
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"It's been a joy," said Apex Police Chief John Letteney. "The athletes and their families, they are so appreciative of the partnership with law enforcement and having the ability to participate in these games. To many of them, it's the highlight of their year. The way we can serve this aspect of our community by helping them raise funds so that they can participate in the Special Olympics games."
This year because of COVID-19, the summer games have been canceled and Special Olympics North Carolina is asking everyone to carry the torch virtually keeping hope alive for the athletes
"We can still do something and we can do it in our own way through our own abilities," said Chief Letteney. "That's such a great tie to Special Olympics because these athletes have abilities and they are showcasing them and we can do that aligned with them and raise some money for Special Olympics."
"I love to give back to this organization and that's the way I do it," said Hughes. "I take part in events...to help raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics."
During the months of May and June participants are asked to walk, run or bike and donate 25 cents per mile.
"It's going to help some athletes get back out on the field once this situation is over," Hughes said.
"Sometimes when you set a goal you slow down when you reach it," Chief Letteney said. "I think my goal is everything I can do between now and June 30th. It's certainly about raising money but it's also about raising awareness and understanding what Special Olympics is about, what the benefit is and to get more people involved. I think once you do get involved, you're hooked."