CRESTVIEW — Special Olympics Okaloosa County annually has a loyal group of supporters who raise awareness and funding for the organization.
And you could say that those supporters are some of the county's finest.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office has raised more than $3,000 for Special Olympics in the past four years, according to OCSO Capt. Ron Gay, the Law Enforcement Torch Run organizer. The group reportedly has raised $780 this year alone.
PHOTOS: See 7 photos from the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics>>
Deputies run, along with the iconic torch, from the Publix grocery store parking lot on State Road 85 to the Okaloosa County Veterans Memorial in downtown Crestview, and they sell Torch Run hats and T-shirts.
Proceeds help pay for athletes' uniforms and travel expenses for attending the Special Olympics state events.
Wednesday's cool morning weather didn't deter the tradition, as several OCSO personnel, along with the Florida Highway Patrol, the Crestview and Fort Walton Beach police departments, Florida Department of Corrections and local probation and parole officials, showed their support.
"It was a shocker at first but once we got to running it was okay," OCSO Deputy Jeremiah Dowdy said.
In addition to the torch run, local officers have raised funds with "Tip a Cop" events, during which officers work as waiting staff at local restaurants and earn tips for Special Olympics Okaloosa County, Gay said.
"It's pretty cool" to see officers attract attention to the Special Olympics and the athletes involved, Special Olympian Jacob Luttrell said.
Theresa Mouer, Okaloosa County Special Olympics assistant director, said she appreciates all the support.
"Both (OCSO) Sheriff Larry Ashley and (Crestview Police Chief) Tony Taylor have always been behind us," she said.
HOW TO HELP
Call the Crestview Police Department, 682-3544, or the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, 651-7410,to buy a Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics T-shirt or cap.