RALEIGH – Before competition begins at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle next July, an elite group of individuals will serve as the “Guardians of the Flame” and escort the Special Olympics Flame of Hope on a journey across Washington state. Cumberland County Sherriff Sgt. Jennifer Osborne of Fayetteville and Special Olympics N.C. athlete Robin Callaway of Charlotte are among those who will make up the prestigious “Final Leg” team for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Since the first Special Olympics USA Games in 2006, members of law enforcement and Special Olympics athletes from across the United States have carried the Flame of Hope in the LETR Final Leg to usher the start of the national competition.
From June 27 through July 1, the LETR Final Leg team will conduct multiple runs and ceremonies in cities, towns and communities across Washington state to raise awareness for Special Olympics and the 2018 USA Games. The 2018 LETR Final Leg culminates on July 1 when the team escorts the Flame of Hope into the Opening Ceremony at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Sgt. Osborne began volunteering with Special Olympics through the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in 2008. In her nine years of involvement, Sgt. Osborne has raised $10,000 singlehandedly. She volunteers at local Special Olympics events, annually participates in the Torch Run Final Leg Relay in June prior to the SONC Summer Games and assists with her agency’s annual motorcycle ride fundraiser. Her dedication to the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics athletes led to her being selected as a member of the NC LETR Council in 2017.
Callaway became involved in Special Olympics in 1999. Since then, she has trained and competed in basketball, bowling, bocce, softball and tennis. In addition to being a highly decorated athlete, she enjoys running and is a leader in the Special Olympics movement, serving as a Global Messenger, or a public spokesperson for the organization, and as an Athlete Ambassador for the North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run Council. In addition to her Special Olympics activities, Robin works two jobs and enjoys volunteering at the Special Olympics Mecklenburg County office. She received statewide recognition in 2015 when she was named the 2015 Special Olympics North Carolina Athlete of the Year.
“Sgt. Osborne and Robin are two integral members of the North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run’s leadership. This is a well-deserved honor for both and they will represent their communities and the state well in Seattle,” said Keith L. Fishburne, president/CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina.
Besides Osborne and Callaway’s role in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, SONC will have a delegation competing, Team North Carolina is made up of 62 athletes supported by 19 coaches competing in athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, Unified flag football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Additional North Carolinians will attend as officials and technical delegates.