CHESAPEAKE, Va. - You usually see them in Chesapeake's courthouse or jail, but this Thursday, deputies with the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office are hitting the pavement.
Thursday morning, 70 people from the sheriff's office will run four miles from the Chesapeake City Park to City Hall, carrying a torch in support of Special Olympics Virginia.
The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run is for a great cause — and this year, it's getting more help than ever.
"It's one of the things we do that we hold very dear," said Lt. Col. Chris Pascal, a longtime member of the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement Torch Run team.
The decision was a no-brainer for him considering who it supports.
"We have volunteers that work for us at the office that are athletes themselves," Pascal explained. "We have our own special Elite unit that we started that consists of Special Olympians who are heavily involved. It's definitely a cause that we care about."
And it's a cause the sheriff's office is happy to raise money for. This year, they've brought in record donations — nearly $12,000 at last check.
"In the past, maybe we've done about half of that," Pascal said.
Currently, the Chesapeake Sheriff's Department is the top earner in the state, reporting more than six times that of the second-place team. Pascal is the top-raising individual.
"We do it through online donations, then we do Cover the Cruisers and we have sponsors," Pascal said.
He also says getting to add more events to the schedule after the COVID pandemic has helped.
There's also a bigger group running this year — 20 more than last.
It's a unity run, Pascal says, so everyone will stay together, doing a pace of about 11-and-a-half-minute miles.
Easy for some. Others, not so much.
"Last time I ran was last year's Torch Run, but uh...you know., we'll get through it," Pascal said. "I think the world needs more positivity, and any time that we get a chance to do it, we have the staff and people that care about doing it."
After the run is finished Thursday, Chesapeake will transport the torch to Richmond for start of the state Special Olympics Games on Friday.