Madison police keep carrying the torch for Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run swept through Madison Wednesday as local officers and members of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office held high the torch that will signal the opening of the Mississippi Special Olympics Summer Games on Friday.

"It's all about the kids," said Madison Police Chief Gene Waldrop at a brief ceremony to recognize the torch's journey through the city. "We support Special Olympics and the opportunities it provides for our athletes."

The Madison Police Department has been raising money through the Torch Run for about 17 years and it's a project import to the officers, said Sgt. Stephen Patrick, who heads the effort.

"It's been more rewarding each year to do this," Patrick told the torch runners. "What you're a part of allows children with disabilities to be a part of special activities, and they love it."

Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler thanked the runners for their dedication to the cause. "What a wonderful thing you're doing," she said.

Twenty-two Special Olympians from Madison County will participate in the games this weekend. Through the games, the athletes get to share their skills and experience the joy of competition, Patrick said.

Madison police were responsible for transporting the torch to the Boswell Regional Center in Simpson County as it makes its way to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi for the opening ceremony of the games at 7 p.m. Friday. The competition begins Saturday and the closing ceremony will be Sunday morning, and several Madison police officers will attend to show their support, Patrick said.

Madison police raised $3,200 through Torch Run T-shirt sales this year. The money goes to support the athletes at the games. Patrick said he wants to "bump up activities" next year to raise more funds for Special Olympics. He is proposing a softball tournament where the police and fire departments could face off on the field.

The torch's journey started in Southaven. Before getting to the games, the torch will be carried through 21 communities by representatives of 100 different law enforcement agencies. Nationally the Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics.