One of the key programs generating awareness of the Special Olympics is the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which started in Wichita, Kansas, in 1981 when Police Chief Richard LaMunyon envisioned it to get his force more actively involved with the community. Two years later, he brought the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which endorsed the initiative officially.
Today, the Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest public awareness program for the Special Olympics. The program involves law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes, known as Guardians of the Flame, carrying the Flame of Hope to various competitions domestically and internationally.
Over the years, the Torch Run has incorporated a number of fundraising platforms for the organization, such as Polar Plunges and Plane Pulls. Altogether, these efforts have raised more than $600 million for the Special Olympics.