Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi and Carpinteria Special Olympics athlete Ben Watts carried the Flame of Hope into the opening ceremony of the 2018 Southern California Special Olympics Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach on Saturday.
More than 1,100 Southern California Special Olympics athletes competed and over 10,000 attended the two-day event, which marked the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics and the 32nd year for the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Arnoldi, a 44-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, has been participating in Special Olympics for more than 35 years and was chosen to carry the torch based on his long-term dedication and commitment over the years to help raise funds and public awareness for Special Olympics Southern California, according to Kelly Hoover, sheriff's spokeswoman. Although the Law Enforcement Torch Run started in Kansas in 1981, Arnoldi was among the first few law enforcement officers who participated when it came to Southern California in 1986, she added.
Arnoldi's family also participates in many different events throughout the year.
“We are very supportive of Special Olympics Southern California from volunteering at the various Tip-A-Cop events, attending and handing out medals and ribbons at the various sports events, to actually participating in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run as well as attending the annual Summer Games," Arnoldi said. "The (Law Enforcement Torch Run) has and will continue to change the future for people with intellectual disabilities and has truly paved the way for acceptance and inclusion,” he added.
“We in the Sheriff’s Office are very proud of Lt. Butch Arnoldi for his 35 years of devoted service to this important organization," Sheriff Bill Brown said. "His contributions have been legion, and we thank Special Olympics for choosing him for the distinct honor of carrying the torch into the Summer Games in Long Beach.”