ASHLAND — The weather was perfect in Ashland on June 23 for a short run as part of the 2022 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Ohio.

Athletes joined Ashland police officers on the short leg from Dairy Queen to Corner Park.

This year’s torch run kicks off the summer games of the Special Olympics Ohio, which are to be June 24 to 26 at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University.

“It’s one of my favorite days,” said JoAnne Weber, Ashland’s coordinator and bowling coach.

Weber said 21 athletes will head down to Columbus for opening ceremonies on Friday. The team will then spend two nights in a dorm setting on campus.

“So that’s pretty exciting,” she said.

The summer games will bring athletes from across the state to compete in tennis, soccer, volleyball, bowling, bocce ball and track and field.

The Ashland team will have 16 athletes ranging in age from 14 to 66 who will actually compete in bowling and various track and field activities.

Hannah Belsterling, 29, has been bowling for five years. She has earned bronze medals in her sport before, so she’s hoping for a gold or silver this year.

“It’s fun to watch people’s excitement,” she said, waiting for the torch to arrive at the Dairy Queen in Ashland. “I am looking forward to competing this weekend.”

One of her friends that will compete, in a different sport, is Jordan Brown.

Brown, 32, has been competing in the javelin throw for a while. He doesn’t really know how well he’s done in the past. He just know he enjoys it.

“I just like it a lot. I’m just looking forward to having fun,” he said.

Tucker Ott, 20, carried the torch for his team from Dairy Queen to Corner Park. He’s competing in shot put and the 100 meter dash for the first time this year.

“I’ve been practicing at home for the last two years. I’m probably going to finish in first or second,” he said, smiling.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in Wichita, Kansas in 1981. It has grown since then to include police departments throughout the nation as a way to support Special Olympics athletes.

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