BARBOURVILLE - A Kentucky State cruiser looked a little different sitting outside of Barbourville Walmart Wednesday morning. That’s because the cruiser was covered in stickers placed by Kentucky State Trooper Shane Jacobs, Knox County Sheriff Mike Smith, and Barbourville community members as part of the Kentucky State Police’s (KSP) partnered program with Special Olympics Kentucky (SOKY) called Cover the Cruiser.

During the last week of July, all 16 KSP posts will park a cruiser at one of their community’s establishments. Community members are then encouraged to pay $1 to write their name or name of a loved one on a sticker to then be placed on the parked cruiser.

“The object of this is to get as many stickers with names over this cruiser,” said Trooper Jacobs with KSP Post 10. “We’re very positive. We know that we live in a great community here. We’re teamed up with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, the Barbourville City Police Department, and there’s no doubt that there’s no reason we can’t cover this car.”

Monies raised from the Cover the Cruiser event will be donated to SOKY to help recoup losses after the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run was canceled due to COVID-19.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 in Wichita, Kansas. Since then, the run has grown to include state police posts throughout the country, and according to the Special Olympics website, has raised over $600 million in donations towards the Special Olympics programs. Here in Kentucky during a typical year, the Law Enforcement Torch Run escorts the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to kick off the State Summer Games in Richmond, Ky.

“Our agency has had a long-standing partnership with Special Olympics Kentucky,” said KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer in a press release. “Even though we could not participate in the Torch Run or the annual summer games, we are excited to help raise funds for this worthwhile cause in a very unique way.”

“We’re very proud of our long association with the Kentucky State Police and thankful for all of the work they have done over the years on behalf of Special Olympics,” said Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni. “We’re excited about ‘Cover the Cruiser’ continuing this partnership in a way that will both engage the community and help continue to change the lives of our athletes.”

In just a little over an hour of being parked in front of Barbourville Walmart, both Jacobs and Smith, along with the help of the Barbourville community, had enough stickers to cover the front end of the cruiser.

Jacobs said that nearly 11,300 athletes participate in Kentucky’s Special Olympics each year, and that the athletes were the reason he and other law enforcement officials were hosting the event.

“We want to make sure that this programs continues year after year,” he said. “Even though we are in this virus season and it did cancel it, we have hopes that this is still going to continue.”

To see where each post will be setting up for its Cover the Cruiser event, visit http://soky.org/coverthecruiser/. London hosted its event on Tuesday and raised $2,600. For those interested, donations can also be made by clinking a link on the aforementioned website.

“We’re very thankful for the local sheriff’s office and the city police department. We’re all teaming up together, we’re all one in this. We’re all law enforcement, we all have each other’s back,” said Jacobs. “The bottom line is, at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. It’s about the Special Olympics. It’s not about us. It’s about making sure this program continues year after year. We’re out here doing all that we can to partner with our community, the people that live here, and what better way to be able to do that?”

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