SHERIDAN — The flame for the Special Olympics made its way through Sheridan Wednesday en route to the Special Olympic World Games.
The torch for the Special Olympic World Games, held this year in Los Angeles, will pass through every state on its way to the games set for July 10.
More than 20,000 people will carry the torch nationwide to its final destination.
Sheridan residents were fortunate enough to be able to carry the Olympic Torch, thanks to a group of local volunteers. More than one dozen people combined efforts to carry the torch to downtown Sheridan.
“This is kind of a one-time deal that it came through Sheridan,” said one of the torch carriers, Deputy Boot Hill of the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office.
Hill was one of several law enforcement personnel who carried the torch.
Representatives from the Sheridan Police Department, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Highway Patrol were also involved.
Special Olympics International organized the run through Sheridan with the Wyoming Special Olympics office. Local efforts were established soon afterward. The torch also went through Gillette and Cheyenne.
Local Special Olympic athlete A.J. Steven started the torch run from Rehabilitation Enterprises of North Eastern Wyoming on Sheridan Avenue. Alongside him was Jeannie Ellinger, who also made the mile-and-a-half trek with her long-time friend.
“It was fun; I really liked it,” Steven said.
Ellinger, who has been an athlete in the games for 32 years, competes in the mile run but has participated in myriad events in her years of competition. Steven competes in the 400-meter run and plays basketball.
For the past five years, Steven and Ellinger played on the same basketball team during the summer games and are the current state champions.
“We are proud of the games that we play,” Ellinger said. “(Stevens) and I are a good team.”
Steven and Ellinger will compete again in their respective events at the fall tournament in Casper this October.
For Hill, this wasn’t his first time carrying the torch for the Olympic games. He had previously been a part of the Unified Run when the games were held in Athens in 2011. There, Hill ran in Greece with law enforcement from around the world, passing through many towns on its way to the games.
However, being able to carry the torch through his hometown of Sheridan Wednesday was a great experience for him.
“The odds of it coming back through Sheridan ever again are fairly slim,” Hill said. “So it was great to be included in this.”