KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The 4th Annual Torch Run for the Kadena Special Olympics will start at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Risner Fitness Center.

Firefighters from the Okinawa Fire Department will join more than 100 law enforcement members from the Marine Corps, Air Force and Army on the 13-kilometer run from Risner, exiting through Kadena Air Base’s Gate 1 and re-entering the base through Gate 3, passing through parts of Chatan, Kadena and Okinawa City.

Funds for the Torch Run will be raised from the participants and sponsors of each unit taking part, said Chip Steitz, Kadena Special Olympics fund development director. “Last year we raised about $2,500.”

This year marks the fifth annual Special Olympics on Okinawa, Steitz said. The games will be held June 12 at Kadena High School.

“We have over 700 athletes registered to participate this year, about 60 more than last year,” Steitz said. “It’s a great way for us to celebrate the successes of these athletes.”

“The Special Olympics delivers an important message, no matter what country its athletes are from,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Remington, 18th Wing Commander. “The message is that people with disabilities have talents and should be afforded the same opportunity to display their abilities and celebrate their successes.”

The Kadena Torch Run is fashioned after the International Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics. Last year some 85,000 law enforcement officers from around the world carried the “Flame of Hope” across 35 nations to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics.

They raised more than $19 million, Steitz said. “It’s the largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness program in the United States and throughout the world,” he said.

This year’s games on Kadena will feature K-1 fighter Bob Sapp and former grand sumo wrestler Musashimaru.

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