(WJHL) – The Special Olympics Tennessee kicked off Thursday morning with an important ritual.

Law enforcement officers and members of the Special Olympics took part in the torch run. The torch run is an event in which the ‘Guardians of the Flame,’ the officers, and Special Olympic members carry the Flame of Hope into the opening ceremonies of local competitors.

Law enforcement agencies from all across the Tri-Cities came together to raise awareness for the event as well as funds for the Special Olympics movement.

“This year, since our athletes are finally back to full play and activity, we’re doing the local runs. Next year, we’ll do a statewide run starting in four parts of the state running into our summer games,” said Jennifer McAfee, torch run director for the Special Olympics Tennessee.

The Special Olympics will continue Thursday afternoon into Friday.