QUINCY -- Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Goehl has participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run -- both as a runner and a driver -- but this year was the first time he handed off the torch to the next leg of the run.
"It just makes you feel good down in your heart when you can do these special things," Goehl said.
He and several other law enforcement officers on Tuesday ran the 22.5 miles from Quincy to the Hancock County line, where officers from other agencies took over running to Carthage and Macomb.
The Torch Run is the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics, raising money and awareness for the thousands of athletes who compete in the Special Olympics.
Law enforcement officers finished the morning having lunch with athletes from Transitions of Western Illinois who will be competing at this weekend's state competition. Five athletes from Transitions are attending the games.
In offering a brief word of encouragement to the athletes going to Bloomington this weekend, Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley gave a quick high-five to athlete Jessica Steinkamp, who was sitting near him.
"We're all proud of you," Copley said.
The torch will arrive Friday in Bloomington, where it will converge with torches from 22 other legs of the Torch Run at the opening ceremony for the Illinois Special Olympics Summer Games.
Quincy police Lt. Kathy Schisler drove one of the vehicles for the run. She said Special Olympics is one of the community organizations that officers enjoy supporting.
"(The athletes) love us to give us hugs and high-fives, and we love to give them back," Schisler said. "We really enjoy interacting with them."
Law enforcement officers assist each year with the games by handing out medals and cheering on the competing athletes.
Officers with the Quincy Police Department also raise money for the Torch Run and Special Olympics through a "Cops and Nachos" fundraiser at Maya Mexican Restaurant, a fall garage sale, the Cop on Top at Dunkin' Donuts and a fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse.
"We get a lot of support from the community to raise funds for our athletes," Schisler said.