Law enforcement carries the torch for Special Olympics Missouri

Runners pose for a photo before taking off on the 2014 Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Runners gathered this morning to kick off the 2014 Missouri Special Olympic Games.

Members of Missouri law enforcement brought the torch for a seven mile run from the Ike Skelton National Guard Training Site to the State Capitol.

For most of the runners, supporting the Special Olympics holds a special place in their hearts.

"I grew up with a guy who was mentally challenged next to me," said Josh Fuller, who works at the Jefferson City Correctional Center. "So I thought it'd be a really neat thing to come out and run the torch run."

"I get the best job," said Tim Goebel, who also works at the Algoa Correctional Center. "I get to give out the medals at the end of events and interact with the athletes when that happens. It's a very fun feeling to be there and watch the joy that the competition gives the athletes."

Itâ??s a rewarding experience for both the athletes and members of law enforcement.

â??You know, any time you can help out people who mean so much, itâ??s just a great opportunity to get out and run to support a good cause,â?? said Lauren Maddox of the Jefferson City Police Department.

â??These law enforcement officers are building relationships with these athletes,â?? said Torch Run organizer Kasie Zimmerman. â??Theyâ??re friends, theyâ??re buddies, they all hug each other. Itâ??s just great. Itâ??s heartwarming.â??

Runners stopped for a quick break at Prison Brews before a ceremony at the Capitol.

Opening ceremonies will kick off the games in Columbia Friday night.