Ivan Meganack, Nick Kvasnikoff and Brent Guarin Escolta cross the finish line of the Homer Torch Run on Saturday. “When I saw them coming across the finish holding the torch together, I saw everything the special olympics stands for,” said photographer Russell Campbell.

Torch Run draws crowd of runners, walkers in Homer, around state

Seventh-five people crossed the starting line of the 5k Homer Special Olympic Torch Run on Saturday, one part of the statewide 2014 Alaska Law Enforcement Torch Run and Pledge Drive.

John Hendricksen was Homer’s torchbearer, assisted by Homer Police Officer Charles Worland.

The event raised more than $8,000 in donations and merchandise for the event, with Eddie Escalera single -handedly bringing in cash and prizes worth $3,659.77.

“This money will fund on-going training and competition opportunities throughout the year,” said Carol Shuler, Homer community director for Special Olympics-Alaska. “It will be used first to fund our Summer State Games trip and competition for basketball and swimming, (including) bus, registration fees, etc., on June 6-8.”

Bocce and golf training for the Summer State Games begins in June. 

“We still need golf and bocce partners for the community as both are unified sports,” said Shuler, describing unified sports as an avenue for combining people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.

“It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding,” said Shuler.

Bocce practices will be on Thursday mornings and golf practices on Thursday afternoons.

For more information, contact Shuler at 235-9264.

The Torch Run’s torch symbolizes a flame of hope ignited across the state by the event which took place simultaneously in 13 communities: Anchorage, Barrow, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su Valley (Palmer/Wasilla), Seward, Sitka and Valdez. Jim Balamaci, president and CEO of Special Olympics-Alaska, said the goal was to raise $150,000 for Special Olympics Alaska communities.

“The fun run is a great way for families and neighbors to get out and stretch their legs, get some fresh air and support training and competition programs for more than 2,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities statewide,” said Balamaci.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

-Photo by Russell Campbell

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