Phillip King and Wendy O’Neill carry the torch through Gympie yesterday.
Phillip King and Wendy O’Neill carry the torch through Gympie yesterday. Renee Pilcher

Gympie hosts Flame of Hope

ATHLETES of all levels of ability had powerful support in Gympie yesterday as police helped escort the ‘Flame of Hope’ through Gympie streets, on its way to the IX National Special Olympics.

Former Gympie police officer Wendy O’Neill, took time off from her duties to revisit our region, carrying the torch along with supporter Phillip King.

They led a procession of students, parents and friends outside Gympie Special School.

The procession was part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which is travelling through Queensland from the Gold Coast, up to Cairns, down through Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Cherbourg, Gympie, Maroochydore, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Brisbane and back to the Gold Coast.

There it will be handed over to New South Wales police.

A Queensland Police service spokesperson said the Flame of Hope would be a big part of the Games’ opening ceremony in Adelaide. Police officers and Special Olympics athletes are running side by side with the Flame.

The spokesperson said the Flame “symbolises courage, determination and light which burns around the world and shines on the athletes’ ability and not their disability.”

Speaking as patron of the run, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said the run was a charity supported by the Queensland Police Service “as a way to raise awareness of people with an intellectual disability and involve local law enforcement personnel in community activities.

“The measure of any community is how we help each other and the Queensland Police service is pleased to be a part of this opportunity to help,” he said.

LETR president Sergeant Brett Price is organising this year’s event and said each leg would be an opportunity to focus on the athletes’ talents.

It also aims to help some raise money to get to Adelaide.

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