Knoxville police officer selected to represent Special Olympics Tennessee in Law Enforcement Torch Run

The officer became involved with the Special Olympics when his daughter became an athlete eight years ago.
Dean Ray
Dean Ray(Special Olympics Tennessee)
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knoxville Police Department officer Dean Ray has been selected to represent Special Olympics Tennessee in teh Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics, officials announced Friday.

Ray, who currently serves as a school resource officer, will be the only officer from Tennessee to participate and one of only 125 officers selected worldwide. Ray has been with the KPD for 25 years, spending time as a patrol officer and K-9 handler.

“I’m in shock, it’s a great honor to be selected for the World Games Torch Run Final Leg and I’m looking forward to this great opportunity,” said Ray. To promote inclusion and provide a chance for these athletes to compete in real sports as part of an actual team…I can’t put a price on the smile on an athlete’s face during Special Olympic events, especially seeing my daughter participate like everyone else.”

Guardians of the Flame who participate in the event carry the Flame of Hope into the opening ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games.

The event is called the Final Leg because it represents the last leg of Torch Run events that have occurred previously around the world. “The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the World who will compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes who comprise the Torch Run Final Leg Team,” officials said.

“Dean’s commitment to our Law Enforcement Torch Run program, and Special Olympics in general, made him an easy choice to represent Tennessee in the Final Leg Torch Run,” said Jennifer McAfee, Law Enforcement Torch Run Director for Special Olympics Tennessee. “I am excited for Dean as he gets to be a part of such an amazing event.”

Ray became involved with the Special Olympics when his daughter Madison became an athlete eight years ago.