Torch Run Events Stories

Virtual Plane Pull!


The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run is delighted to launch the 2020 Virtual Plane Pull for Special Olympics Illinois!

Three Truck Convoys One Common Cause


This fall, law enforcement and truckers throughout the state joined to support Special Olympics Illinois. Officers involved in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Illinois adopted the Truck Convoy as one of their annual signature events, and now the group hosts three Truck Convoys across Illinois: the Sears Centre Convoy in Hoffman Estates, the Troy Truck Convoy (hosted by CIT Trucks), and the Tinley Park Convoy (presented by Action Truck Parts). Together, these events raised $160,000, and in total, 285 trucks participated.

The annual event not only raises funds to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois, but it also fosters long-time friendships.

Mark Hohs, a long-time driver for Jewel-Osco, is set to retire after 37 years of unwavering devotion to the company. Upon retirement, Mark will “pass the Truck Convoy torch” to fellow Jewel-Osco driver, Jim Bowen, who also has close ties to Special Olympics Illinois.

Mark began driving in the Truck Convoys through working at Jewel-Osco. Jewel-Osco is a proud sponsor of Special Olympics Illinois and was well represented on the road during the Truck Convoys.

The past four years, Mark participated in the Sears Centre and Tinley Park Convoys, this year being his final year of participation. Over those four years, Mark grew close to Steve Katz, a Special Olympics Illinois athlete from Arlington Heights. From the beginning, the two bonded, as they both are proud employees of Jewel-Osco. The duo drove together during the Sears Centre and Tinley Park Convoys for four years straight.

While driving in the convoy, Mark was never short of encouragement and laughter from his trusty co-pilot, Steve. Mark and Steve would banter on about which truck would lead the group in the convoy this year.

Year after year, Mark walked away from the convoys feeling empowered due to Steve’s motivating attitude to always try his best.

Steve taught Mark what it truly means to be an athlete — commitment, passion, and the “be brave in the attempt” effort it takes to compete.

“I am very proud of Jewel-Osco’s involvement with Special Olympics Illinois,” said Hohs. “Because of Jewel-Osco, I met Steve, which created lasting memories that the two of us will share.”

We graciously thank Mark for his dedication to Special Olympics Illinois and welcome Jim with open arms to our Special Olympics Illinois family.

Nineteen Years of Freezing For a Reason


The 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge season kicks off this Friday with the SUPER Plunge at Clark Street Beach in Evanston. It is the first of 24 Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge events around the state that will benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

Over 70 brave SUPER Plungers will begin jumping into Lake Michigan at 2 pm. Friday, Feb. 16 and the plunging elite will continue once an hour for 24 hours until 1 pm Saturday, Feb. 17.

During the SUPER Plunge, Chicago Blackhawks fans are invited to join Tommy Hawk for a Blackhawks Plunge Hour on Feb. 17 at 10:00 am. Participants must raise a minimum of $100 and will be entered for a chance to win four tickets to a 2018 Blackhawks home game and locker room tour.

As Special Olympics turns 50, we celebrate all of the fundraisers that have helped support sports training and competition for athletes. The LETR Polar Plunge has a long-standing history with Special Olympics. For 19 years, adventurous souls have taken to the icy waters of local lakes throughout the state. In 1999, Plunge started in Lake Bluff with 150 Plungers raising more than $34,000. The Polar Plunge has since grown to 24 plunge events throughout Illinois and in that time, more than 66,000 plungers have raised more than $18.4 million.

Warm-hearted individuals are encouraged to be bold and get cold by taking the plunge with local law enforcement officers and others from the community at one of 23 “traditional” Plunges (one plunge per participant) happening statewide. Each Plunger must raise a minimum of $100 and will receive a cardinal red Polar Plunge hooded sweatshirt.

This year features 2 NEW Traditional Plunges:

February 17 – Carbondale

February 18 – Evanston

February 18 – Palatine

February 24– Bloomington, Carlyle, Mahomet, Mendota, Quincy

February 25 – Fox Lake, Galesburg

March 3 – Benton, Chatham, Decatur, Effingham, Manteno, Oak Brook, Rockford

March 4 – Macomb, Yorkville,

March 9 – Belleville (NEW)

March 10 – Joliet, Champaign (NEW)

March 25 – Rock Island

For more information, to register, or to support a plunger, visit Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using hashtag #PlungeWith.

All proceeds benefit the 23,000 athletes and 20,000 Young Athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run® has raised more than $47 million over 32 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

We thank our Statewide Presenting Polar Plunge Sponsors: GEICO, RIU Hotels & Resorts, and Apple Vacations.

Polar Plunge



Written by Brook and Dave Klawitter – Jack’s parent’s

Jack started participating in Special Olympics via the Young Athlete Program when was 2 years old.  He just turned 12 on Friday so we have been participating for 10 years!!  When Jack turned 6, he participated in the Young Athlete transition events and competed in snowshoeing, running and soccer skills.  I think that transition training was more important for me than it was for Jack.  It was a big adjustment to stand up in the stands and watch him go with volunteers to the starting line.  I’m sure I’ll never forget the first time he fell while snowshoeing and I had to stand and watch as he struggled to stand back up.  In typical Special Olympics fashion, all of the volunteers and spectators started cheering for him to get up and I just stood anxiously on the sidelines hoping that he’d figure it out.  When he finally did, I realized that nothing would ever replace the pride he felt in doing it all himself!  Now that Jack is 12, he competes in swimming, basketball, unified golf and track and field.  Jack is also a Global Messenger and LOVES to put on his blazer and tell people about the impact of Special Olympics on his life. 

When Jack started participating in the Special Olympics Young Athlete program, it was a time in his life where we constantly had to have conversations with doctors and therapists about the milestones Jack was NOT achieving.  We fell in love with Special Olympics because it was the first place we just got to celebrate Jack – and every other athlete.  We didn’t have to compare him to others and we got to focus on what he COULD do, not what he couldn’t do.  All of the staff, volunteers and families have become members of our extended family.

Family Super Plunge, the Klawitters #PlungeWITH Jack:

We took our first Polar Plunge in 2010 at Fox Lake and found out that someone we knew did the Super Plunge.  So, in 2011, Dave and I had to start Super Plunging.  In 2015, Jack joined us for 5 plunges, then 10 in 2016 and 15 in 2017.  He is planning to join us for 15 again in 2018!  Jack’s sisters have also started taking single plunges.  As a family, we have plunged over 375 times. 

We have learned so many valuable lessons from Jack.  Since he started therapies at 4 months old, I have always been impressed and inspired by his willingness to work hard and accomplish tasks that weren’t easy or natural for him.  Jack has an amazing way of looking at every coming moment as a new opportunity to succeed, despite what happened last time.  I guess plunging with him is the same thing. While freezing, each plunge is also invigorating, empowering and fun.  We are inspired by his enthusiasm to go back in the water despite knowing that its cold.  We are just so proud of Jack and our daughters for plunging and love that we’ve added it to the long list of things we do together as a family.

There is a very special camaraderie among the Super Plungers whether we’ve been plunging together for years or the first time.  It is a lot of fun to spend 24 hours with a great group of people that share a common passion.   It is great that we can use this event to build a lot of awareness for Special Olympics.

Team Palmer House is Prepared for Takeoff!


Returning again this year, The Palmer House Hotel. They are so excited to return and love this event. Team Palmer House is part of the hotel division for the Plane Pull and has been participating for five years.

Why We Participate

Palmer House Hotel became involved through our team organizer, we were so moved by the environment and the cause we decided to continue participating. We participate continually because of all the various elements that wow us. From the outpouring of participation from multiple municipalities, to the hotels that come together, to the vendors that donate – all for the Special Olympics. We’re happy to represent the Palmer House and hope we bring home a championship trophy once again!

Why We Love Plane Pull

We love the idea of it!  Working together as a UNIT to pull a PLANE!  It’s an incredible concept and to be able to take home the trophy made it even more amazing!

About Yadira Quintanilla

Yadira is the Palmer House team captain and will be going on her third year of participation in the event. Yadira loves participating because of her friends and family are involved in Law Enforcement. She loved the event so much she encouraged her two children to participate alongside her.