Eddie Sitzman (center) runs with the torch down Madison Street during the June 13 Law Enforcement Torch Run | Shanel Romain, Contributing Photographer

The local leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run was held on June 13, beginning at the Westchester Police Department and ending at Constitution Court on Madison Street in Forest Park.

The run is a fundraiser that benefits Special Olympics Illinois, with the goals of raising money for the event and spreading awareness of the athletes who participate in Special Olympics.

An intrastate relay, the run covers 1,500 miles through thousands of Illinois’ communities via 23 different legs or routes, according to the Torch Run website. The final destination is the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games in Normal.

Locally, participating police departments included Forest Park, North Riverside, Broadview, Maywood, Bellwood and Westchester.

Forest Park Police Officer Mike O’Connor coordinated the event, and Forest Park runners were Police Chief Tom Aftanas, Deputy Police Chief Ken Gross, Officer Daysi Riglos and desk clerk Maria Jimenez.

Along the route, fire trucks sprayed runners with water during the 4.5-mile course.

The run finished at Doc Ryan’s on Madison Street, where owner Matt Sullivan hosted runners, athletes and their families, which he’s been doing since 2017, said Aftanas. Sullivan donated pizza, beer and soda to the runners and their families.

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