The Flame of Hope Travels Across Montana

More than 600 Montana Law Enforcement representatives and friends hit the streets, highways, and byways of Big Sky Country to carry the “Flame of Hope” to the Special Olympics Montana State Summer Games.

In addition to fulfilling their duties of enforcing speed limits, maintaining order, and keeping our state safe, these officers are part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), whose mission it is to raise funds and awareness of the Special Olympics Movement worldwide.

The relay had ten starting points around the state with hundreds carrying the Flame of Hope over 1,800 miles to the final destination in Bozeman for the lighting of the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony.

Lieutenant Chris Colgan of the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office, who has been involved with LETR for 20 years says he and other officers do LETR to show they are human.

“We’re people, too. When we say community police, we mean it.”

The relay started about three weeks before the State Summer Games and made stops in numerous towns throughout the state including Plentywood, Libby, Kalispell, Billings, Glasgow, Malta, Boulder, Anaconda, Choteau, and Lewistown.

Nearly 30 law enforcement agencies participated in the run including Montana Highway Patrol, Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, US Federal Probation and Parole, US Border Patrol, Montana State Prison, Fish Wildlife and Parks, Columbus Police Department, Bridger Police Department, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, Sweet Grass County Sheriff’s Office, Hardin Police Department, Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, and Motor Carrier Services.

The formality of the lighting of the cauldron is awe-inspiring and possibly the most exciting part of the entire Torch Run because it signals the start of the Games.

Nik Buciuman, US Probation Officer based in Billings grew up with Special Olympics because his younger brother is an athlete, but his career choice allows him to be involved in LETR.

“I remember the first time I was asked to be part of the Circle of Honor–it was the greatest feeling and honor to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

The Torch Run in Montana began in 1985. Each year, local Montana law enforcement raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Special Olympics Montana athletes. In 2022, the Montana LETR raised $399,886.76 for local athletes and broke $9 million dollars raised since the start of Montana’s LETR program.

In addition to the Torch Run, law enforcement representatives throughout Montana participate in several special fundraising events including the Polar Plunge and Tip-a-Cop. Our Premier Sponsors of the Montana Torch Run include the Montana Police Protective Association and Town Pump.

The Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics and has raised over $946 million since its inception in 1981.