Sgt. Mark Horner has been deeply involved with Special Olympics for nearly a decade, but will soon be stepping aside as the Liaison Officer between Special Olympics and the Missoula Police Department.

"Well I got hired in '85 and I think my first torch run was in '87. But I didn't really become involved with Special Olympics until probably about eight years ago. Besides I needed to get more involved and wanted to get more involved instead of just volunteering," Horner said. "Once an opening came up for liaison officer for law enforcement for Special Olympics, I put my name in it."

Of course, Horner was still volunteering, just in a bigger way. The position is not paid for by either the Special Olympics or the Police Department. It involves coordinating multiple fund raisers, including the Grizzly Dip and the Torch Run, which helped give Montana Special Olympians the resources they need.

"Last year we raised $550,000 statewide for all the events that go towards Special Olympics," Horner said. "That's a lot for Montana due to the population per capita. What we've seen at the the national conference is doing well in raising money."

Although Horner will be passing the torch, so to speak, to Officer Jenna Volinkaty, he won’t be disappearing. He says he wants to spend more time focusing on working with the special Olympians at the events rather than dealing with administration.

Photo courtesy of Missoula Police Department