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June 10, 2008

Vipers step up to Carry the Torch

I never cease to be amazed by the Soldiers and Families of the Military Police Battalion and yesterday was no exception. At 6 a.m. May 21, I joined more than 40 Viper Soldiers as they gathered to run 42 miles to Alexandria carrying the Louisiana Special Olympics torch along with other local law enforcement volunteers.
It was an amazing sight to see as mile after mile the Soldiers stepped up carry the "torch of hope." It was encouraging to see civilians running alongside them, another example of how the local communities support Fort Polk's Soldiers and Families. My heart was touched as I saw the Soldiers encouraging the young children who ran alongside them, even though the slower pace must have made it more difficult for them. Their patience was only outdone by their determination and heart. In the past months I have come to regard this battalion as my Family, so to "my MPs" who were out there running and volunteering, "Thank you for showing the true spirit and heart of the Viper Battalion."

Here is the article that was published in the post newspaper.



-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (June 6, 2008) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, 519th Military Police Bn

A convoy of more than 15 military and law enforcement vehicles slowly rolled down Leesville's main street at 8 a.m. May 21. Sirens shrieked though the early morning silence as the bystanders looked on. Behind them nearly 100 runners, representing law enforcement agencies from Fort Polk, Leesville Police Department, Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office, Walden Security Forces, New Llano Police Department and Rosepine Police Department. Leading them was a group of Louisiana Special Olympics athletes carrying the Flame of Hope, the Special Olympics torch, representing the thousands of athletes, families and volunteers.

Soldiers of the 519th MP BN gathered with local law enforcement agencies for the 2008 Louisiana State Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of the Louisiana Special Olympics athletes. In Louisiana alone there are over 10,000 Special Olympians involved in year round sports training and athletic competitions, says the organization's web site, www.laso.org.

For the second consecutive year, the 519th Military Police Battalion has participated in the event running the torch 42 miles to Alexandria. Six Soldiers continued to carry the torch through to its final destination in Hammond, Louisiana where the Special Olympic Games were held this year. In Hammond, those Soldiers were able to cheer on the competitors and present them with medals and ribbons.

"Before the Vipers, Law Enforcement agents and Special Olympians could take off for Alexandria with the torch the Special Olympian Oath was read: 'Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,'" said Capt. Misty LaPlante, commander of 91st Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, who participated in the run. "These inspiring words echoed in the minds of the runners as they faced the heat, dust and friendly competition along the route."

"Carrying the torch was a tremendous honor for the Vipers. Not only did it foster stronger community relations, it strengthened the bonds and professional relationship between all participating and supporting law enforcement agencies," she added. "Together, as a team, a dozen agencies and the Special Olympians ensured the safe passage of the torch and the passage of the Special Olympic Mission, which is to promote understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities.

"This endurance run tested the metal and drive of the participants. The run also opened the eyes of the Soldiers to the challenges faced by the participants as well as the drive and motivation that thrives within each of the competitors, who have overcome so much in order to participate in this years games," LaPlante concluded.
The run culminated at the amphitheater in Alexandria, where the runners were welcomed and thanked by the Mayor of Alexandria. The Honorable Jacques Roy, commended the runners and thanked them for their participation. The real reward, however, for the runners, was the opportunity to interact with and shake the hands of the Special Olympians themselves.

"It was rewarding to be able to give a little of my time for something that meant so much to these young athletes," said Command Sgt. Major John Williamson, 519th Military Police Battalion command sergeant major. "It was a great opportunity for the Soldiers to give back to a community that supports them and to understand how giving of your time can make a difference in someone else's life. The 519th Military Police Soldiers look forward to more opportunities to thank our neighboring communities for their continued support."

Until our next cup of tea ...

3 Tea Party Guest:

Sue said...

I am proud of them all. As you mentioned, it couldn't have been easy for the long legged soldiers to run next to the kids and still maintain their stride, but they did. Now why doesn't that surprise me?
Awesome article - you must have felt so proud to be there.
Hugs,
Sue

lime said...

that's terrific. that must have meant so much to the kids!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

My heart swells just reading this...thank you for sharing it with us!

It's been a while, but now that I've "found" you again, I've gone and done something rotten...yup, you've been tagged. Please come by and see what it's all about. Thanks!