Lt. James Diana named Winnie Spence 2018 Torch Runner of the Year

posted Mon, Apr 30, 2018 by Jon Buzby

Left to right: Col. Vaughn Bond (NCC Police Dept.), Lt. James Diana (DATE), SODE Outstanding Athlete Matt Montgomery and Chief R.L. Hughes (Georgetown Police Dept.).

Lieutenant James Diana of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement has been named the Delaware Law Enforcement Torch Run “Winnie Spence” 2018 Torch Runner of the Year. 

Diana's first exposure to Special Olympics Delaware was in 1995 when his family and a group of friends first took part in the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge, which, with windchills of -20 degrees, still stands as the coldest plunge in the event's history. However, those extremely cold temperatures didn't deter the "Diana Bears," as they've returned to the beach each year on the first Sunday in February to jump into the Atlantic Ocean. 

That first exposure to Special Olympics sparked Diana to want to do more, and so, while serving in his role as an officer with the Wilmington Police Department, he decided to participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. It would be just the beginning of his volunteer efforts with Special Olympics. 

"It wasn’t until I volunteered at the Summer Games and Fall Festival that I realized how this organization truly impacts not only the lives of the athletes but also the lives of all those who volunteer," Diana shared. "My most unforgettable moments are those times when I had the honor of presenting medals to the athletes. Seeing and experiencing the athletes’ reactions of pure joy and how proud they were of their accomplishments not only humbled me but also warmed my heart and soul."

Diana joined the Wilmington Police Department in 1986 and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant in 2010. He then joined the Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) and currently serves as its Statewide Operations Supervisor.

As the Winnie Spence Torch Runner of the Year, Diana will have the distinct honor to deliver the Flame of Hope, on behalf of the entire Delaware Law Enforcement community, to the Athlete of the Year, Matt Montgomery, at the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Games on Friday, June 8 at the University of Delaware.

"I feel truly blessed to be a small part of the Special Olympics Delaware organization," Diana said.