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In the wake of tragedy, the Flame of Hope burns bright in Missou - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

In the wake of tragedy, the Flame of Hope burns bright in Missoula

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The Montana Special Olympics Flame of Hope is a symbol that burns bright, igniting the optimism of all who see it. (MTN News photo) The Montana Special Olympics Flame of Hope is a symbol that burns bright, igniting the optimism of all who see it. (MTN News photo)
The Flame of Hope is protected by Montana law enforcement, which is reeling after the shooting death of deputy Mason Moore. (MTN News photo) The Flame of Hope is protected by Montana law enforcement, which is reeling after the shooting death of deputy Mason Moore. (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

The Montana Special Olympics Flame of Hope is a symbol that burns bright, igniting the optimism of all who see it.  In the wake of tragedy gripping guardians of the flame statewide, that hope is needed perhaps now more than ever before.

A lack of sunshine is not enough to keep the Special Olympic Summer Games opening ceremonies in the dark.  Neither rain nor sleet nor the snow on Mount Sentinel was enough to extinguish the Flame of Hope, which arrived just in time to ignite the 2017 Summer Games. 

The flame's long journey came to an end this week finding its place in Missoula for the Garden City's third consecutive Special Olympic Summer games. That sacred flame is protected by Montana law enforcement.

"The athletes call us the guardians of the flame.  It all started with Chief Richard LaMunyon.  He was the founder of the torch run program, and it was -- I think it was kind of a natural fit," said Western Montana torch run assistant director Truman Tolson.

But this year, the guardians are finding more solace in the flame's warm glow than ever before.  The opening ceremonies came just a day after the fatal shooting of Broadwater County Sheriff's deputy Mason Moore.

"Thank you, law enforcement,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the packed Adams Center arena crowd.  “Not only do they give, but days like today with the loss of Deputy Mason Moore is that much more significant.  So thank you law enforcement."

"Law enforcement is a true brotherhood,” said Tolson.  “The athletes understand that we are hurting in law enforcement and that you know with the death of Deputy Moore.  But we're still there for them."

These guardians and athletes take heart, igniting an unquenchable passion for life, love, and laughter, intent on remembering deputy Moore under the flickering glow of the Flame of Hope.

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