PITTSBURG — A Pittsburg Police Department officer has been appointed as Kansas State Director of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.

PPD Sgt. Chris Moore has served as the Southeast Kansas coordinator for the state LETR Executive Council for seven years, and has now been voted to lead the group. In his new position, Moore will serve a three-year term and lead law enforcement fundraising activities for Special Olympics Kansas.

“I’ll be traveling to departments to try to get them involved,” Moore said. “That’s my biggest goal is to get departments involved and motivated to raise raise money and awareness for Special Olympics.”

Moore has been successful at motivating his own department in the past. Moore has helped PPD raise tens of thousands of dollars for Special Olympics athletes as department coordinator. Pittsburg hosts the torch run for Southeast Kansas Special Olympics spring track and field games and raises funds for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. From 2012 to 2015, PPD was the top law enforcement fundraising agency in the state, and in 2016, the Pittsburg Police Department raised more than $31,000, coming in second after the Topeka Police Department.

Pittsburg Police Chief Mendy Hulvey said in a release that Moore has made an impact at the department, and through all levels of Special Olympics.

“I have traveled with Chris to various Special Olympics events and I am always impressed with how well-known he is, both statewide and internationally,” she said. “Chris embodies the mission of Special Olympics and works diligently to make sure our officers participate in all Law Enforcement Torch Run events. He makes every effort to ensure the Pittsburg Police Department will be the top fundraising department in the state.”

His dedication has been recognized in the past as well. In 2014, Moore was inducted into the Richard LaMunyon Kansas Torch Run Hall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding individuals who significantly contribute to the statewide success of the torch run.

But Moore said he doesn’t do this for recognition. To him, it is all about the athletes.

“My biggest thing with Special Olympics is the athletes and getting them involved; getting them the opportunity to do things they wouldn’t be able to,” he said. “It helps show they don’t need to be treated any differently than other athletes. They can compete at the state, national and even world levels. They don’t need to be treated differently, they just need to be included.”

The LETR for Special Olympics was created in 1981 by Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon. Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement officers carry a torch known as the “Flame of Hope” into opening ceremonies of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, National and World Games. The flame symbolizes courage and the celebration of diversity, uniting communities around the globe.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.