50th annual Illinois Special Olympics Torch Run kicks off

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) -- For its 50th anniversary, the Illinois Special Olympics Torch Run kicked off Sunday from Jack Wolf's Auto Group in Belvidere.

Members of the Belvidere Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, put their running shoes on and came to this event. Runners participated in the 6-mile race carrying the torch to raise awareness and funds for the athletes who participate in the Illinois Special Olympics. The money goes to fund the athletes with disabilities throughout the year at their training and competition. Gavin Marrow says competing in the Special Olympics has given him a whole new meaning of life.

"I get to compete and when I get first place I get to go to state and I was a rolling state champion the last 2 years. My parents are really proud of me because Special Olympics has been a new life for me," said Gavin Marrow, a Special Olympics participant.

"He found his ability to be able to participate in sports and we just really found a niche of being able to find friends and being more social. Then once we were able to go downstate, all of a sudden that all opened up that this whole world of, ‘hey, maybe I can go to college, maybe I can move forward in my life,’ and dreams were able to start," said Meg Marrow, Gavin’s mother.

Departments all across the state are participating in the torch run up until Friday. They will then come together with the torches at the ISU football stadium to start the Special Olympics Summer Games this weekend.