MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Keesler Air Force base is hosting the statewide Special Olympics this weekend. But before the games can begin, the "flame of hope" must be delivered by coast law enforcement. And that traditional torch run began early Friday morning, in Moss Point.
They gathered early Friday at Pelican Landing conference center. These Jackson County law enforcers are "guardians of the flame."
"This is our fourth annual law enforcement torch run here in the City of Moss Point. Every year we participate in this run. It's a way for us to give back," said Darius Wilson, with Moss Point Police Department.
Those who protect and serve are traditionally called upon to deliver the Special Olympics torch.
"Police officers, deputy sheriffs, you know, by nature are just caring folks. They want to get out here and show their support and try to help folks in need. And that's what it's all about today," said Sheriff Mike Ezell.
"Helping out the community. So, that's what we're here to do. Protect and serve and serve anybody we can," added sheriff's deputy Jonathan Landry.
"We have over a thousand athletes that are going to be here this weekend, and we're just really excited. They're going to be swimming and running and just all sorts of sports," said Jenny Woodruff with Mississippi Special Olympics.
Gregory Means is among the athletes looking forward to competing.
"Swimming and baseball," he said, with a big smile. "Because it's fun."
"Alright, Greg, you're going to lead us, okay? And when you get tired, you just pass that on to the next person," Officer Wilson directed.
Right off the bat, the runners must tackle the high rise bridge on 613. Just in case it's needed, the sheriff had a back-up plan.
"If I start lagging behind, I'm going to get a truck to come pick me up so I can get back out front," he said, laughing.
But he and the others all made it; onward and westward delivering the flame of hope to Keesler.