Torch relay for Special Olympics

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

The 2007 Law Enforcement Torch Run passed through Tucumcari on Monday to call attention to the 2007 Special Olympics New Mexico Summer Games this weekend in Albuquerque.
Carried by Tucumcari’s Special Olympians, the torch traveled across Tucumcari’s Route 66 from Kmart to ALCO in a relay with a police escort. The torch run raises awareness and funds for New Mexico’s Special Olympics, said Rhonda Gardner, torch run liaison.
“It’s one of our biggest fund raisers,” said Gardner. “Last year, we raised $167,000.”
Converging from all four corners of the state, the run consists of 15,080 miles, Gardner said.
Tucumcari’s athletes, who participated in the torch relay, will be competing at the summer games at the University of New Mexico.
They are Todd Hatterman, Alfredo Jaramillo, Brandon Downing, George McCandles, Lawrence Cordova and Lorenzo Salazar. Their coach is Cornell Evans, a coordinator with the Quay County Special Olympics, a sergeant with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
The Tucumcari athletes are able to travel to the games through the generous donations from the Elks Club and New Mexico Department of Transportation employee Albert Andrada, said Geraldine Downing, a service coordinator for the Quay County Special Olympics.
“If they had not donated, we would not be able to go,” said Downing. “These athletes have little else. This is the only team sporting event they can compete in besides the winter games. It means a lot to them and they love to go.”
On Tuesday, the torch was carried from Santa Rosa to Moriarty and on Friday it will go to Albuquerque for games’ opening ceremonies.

The Special Olympics summer games will be Friday through Saturday in Albuquerque at UNM.