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Somerset residents participate in Torch Run

Somerset Police Chief Doug Briggs talks to members of Team Magpie before they bike from Somerset to New Richmond as part of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Wednesday, June 9.1 / 2
Somerset Police Chief Doug Briggs leads the way for the Somerset leg of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on June 9. Participants bicycled from the Somerset Fire Hall to New Richmond (seven miles) or the full leg to Bloomer (61 miles).2 / 2

It was a sunny, yet windy day on Wednesday, June 9.

"It could be a blessing, or a hindrance," said David Dunleap, as he adjusted his bike helmet outside the Somerset Fire Hall.

Dunleap, 54, was one of several Somerset residents participating in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, which started in Superior at 7:30 a.m. and ended in Allen Park in Chippewa Falls by 4 p.m.

The Somerset leg began around 9:30 a.m. at the Fire Hall on Highway 35. The team from the Somerset Police Department and Team Magpie (of Magpie Coffee House and Café) rode bicycles from Somerset along Highway 64 to New Richmond, approximately seven miles one way.

According to Somerset Police Chief Doug Briggs, three individuals completed the full leg from Somerset to Bloomer - 61 miles.

"We estimate that we have raised close to $1,000 for Special Olympics," Briggs said.

A press release from the Special Olympics of Wisconsin stated that Wisconsin's Torch Run is the fifth highest grossing program in the world, having raised more than $1.8 million in 2009 with more than 1,000 registered participants representing 170 law enforcement agencies.

Briggs, whose son John is a Special Olympian, led the group - which consisted of about 10 bikers, including an 8-year-old boy - on Highway 64 while a police cruiser followed.

The Torch Run is just part of year-long activities designed to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics Wisconsin's Summer Games were held in Stevens Point on June 10.

"Chief Briggs asked me if I would sponsor a team, and I have a niece with special needs," said Maggie Beauvais, owner of Magpie Coffee House and Café, as she balanced on her borrowed bicycle before leaving.

"This is the first time I've been on a bike in years."