PITTSBURGH (KDKA) –Today was a memorable day for Special Olympics athletes and their law enforcement supporters.

The Fifth Annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Torch Run kicked off at PNC Park.

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“I’m very blessed and happy to be here,” athlete Jessica Clayton said.

Athletes with the Special Olympics, their families, and dozens of police officers joined together to kick off the annual torch run.

During the three-day, 150-mile trek from Pittsburgh to Penn State, over 400 runners representing more than 50 law enforcement teams will participate.

The trip, broken up into 2 to 4-mile legs, is not only to transport the torch, but to raise awareness.

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“The way we kind of look at it is they don’t have disabilities, they just have different abilities and we want to be a part of that and show them that they matter and we’re there for them. They’re just like everybody else,” Pittsburgh Police Assist. Chief Scott Schubert said.

“Our Special Olympics athletes, they don’t want to be special. They want to be just like everybody else. They want friends, they want a chance to be part of a team, they want a chance to compete, they want to have fun,” Special Olympics Pennsylvania President Matt Aaron said.

Leaders with the Special Olympics say law enforcement has been an incredible supporter of the athletes between raising money and forming friendships.

“Our true ultimate goal is to help people with intellectual disabilities become productive and respected members of society and there is nothing like a partnership with law enforcement to really do that,” Aaron said.

The run will wrap up Thursday evening during the opening ceremonies of the summer games at Penn State. More than 2,000 athletes will be taking part this year.

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