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.

Officer Matt Koritnik, Lovell Police Department, is among those who will make up the prestigious “Final Leg” team for the Law Enforcement Torch Run 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 generate excitement for 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.

Koritnik joined the Wyoming Law Enforcement Torch Run Council in 2012 and has been dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics Wyoming ever since. He was a team member of the 2014 USA Games Final Leg in New Jersey. In 2016, Koritnik was named Wyoming’s Torch Run director.

He said his favorite part of the Torch Run is presenting medals to the athletes. He is inspired by “the athletes of Special Olympics, who compete with joy, courage, bravery, and perseverance.”

Koritnik said, “It is our mission as Guardians of the Flame to raise awareness for Special Olympics Wyoming and ensure all our athletes are accepted and included”.

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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