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El Paso police officer to become torch bearer at 2019 Special Olympics

El Paso police officer to become torch bearer at 2019 Special Olympics{ }{p}{/p}
El Paso police officer to become torch bearer at 2019 Special Olympics

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An El Paso police officer is gearing up for the role of a lifetime. And he’s the only one to do it in the state of Texas.

Passion has led this officer to the world stage.

Our paths in life all lead us down different roads.

“Coming out here to support them lit a flame in my heart,” said Sgt. Roberto Cardenas.

Sgt. Roberto Cardenas is a 20-year-old police veteran, husband to a special education teacher , father to five kids.

Part of his journey starts on the track at Burges High School.

“When you see that last hundred lines, and you see the finish line within view, I think that’s when you forget that you’re tired, and then you just want to finish and finish strong,” said Cardenas.

Cardenas has served as a volunteer for the Special Olympics for 10 years now.

“I was originally invited by another officer to participate, and after the first year I just got hooked,” said Cardenas.

A proud torch bearer with the Law Enforcement Torch Run group, running with athletes around the track — kicking off the Olympic Games has become a part of who he is.

“I wouldn’t call myself special, I think I was just lucky to be honored,” said Cardenas.

Now Cardenas is one of 100 law enforcement officers who will at the 2019 Special Olympics world games in Abu Dhabi.

“We’ll start off in Abu Dhabi, and then we’re going to run through all seven emirates for two weeks, carrying the flame of hope, until the world games,” said Cardenas.

Year round, through the law enforcement torch run group—Cardenas and others raise money for the Special Olympics games.

“We do events like the airplane pull, fire truck pull, cops on top a donut shop, tip a cop, things like that,” said Cardenas.

He runs for the kids but that’s not all.

“Sgt. Ruben Orozco was a sergeant with the El Paso Sheriff’s Department, and he died in a tragic accident,” said Cardenas.

A tragic accident, taking a loving soul too soon.

“He was a big supporter of Special Olympics, and one of the founding members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run here in El Paso,” said Cardenas.

So Cardenas runs in his honor.

Cardenas’ strides have all come with unique moments.

“My most memorable moment ...,” said Cardenas reminiscing.

Some moments stand out more than others.

“I was here several years ago, and we were doing the relay and this young lady, about 17 years old, and right before the relay ... she mentioned to me that she wasn’t going to be able to go to the state games because her family did not have the funds to take her there,” said Cardenas.

For Cardenas, it’s about the lasting impact that changes lives today and forever.

“To see the athletes and how much love they have,” said Cardenas.

And this is an impact that comes full circle.

“At one point, I gained a lot of weight and I think by seeing these athletes trying so hard at what they do, every day gives me a sense of, you know what, I can go out there and go a little bit harder, I can do a little bit more and help myself personally,” said Cardenas.

Somewhere along the way, Cardenas found the encouragement he gives is being given right back.

“Their attitude of just continuing on no matter what, and not giving up, that attitude is contagious,” said Cardenas.

Reflecting on every moment that’s led him to the world stage, Cardenas said in Abu Dhabi, he’s soaking it all in.

As an undeniable experience of a lifetime, the world Special Olympics games are just another stop on his journey.

“I’ve learned from the athletes, I learned not to give up,” said Cardenas.

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