Torch Runners of the Year

Torch Runners of the Year

  • 2018 James Diana Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement
  • 2017 Andrew Manning Delaware Natural Resources Police Department
  • 2016 Danielle Martin Delaware State Police
  • 2015 Chris Popp Delaware State Police (first recipient of the Winnie Spence Torch Runner of the Year award)
  • 2014 Jason Stevenson* Delaware State Police
  • 2013 Karen Messner New Castle County Police Department
  • 2012 Charles "Chip" Simpson * Delaware State Police
  • 2011 Randy Lee State Fire Marshal's Office - Sussex Division
  • 2010 Ken McLaughlin * Ocean View Police Department
  • 2009 Randy Fisher * Delaware State Police
  • 2008 Thomas F. Mac Leish Delaware State Police
  • 2007 Bruno Battaglia * Wilmington Police Department
  • 2006 Adam Wright Delaware State Police
  • 2005 Wayne Kline * DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation
  • 2004 Leslie "Lad" Dick Delaware State Police
  • 2003 Rich Dennis * Delaware State Police
  • 2002 Ben Nefosky Delaware State Police
  • 2001 John Fogelgren Wilmington Police Department
  • 2000 Mark Daniels * Delaware State Police
  • 1999 Pete Schwartzkopf Delaware State Police
  • 1998 Ralph Johnson Newark Police Department
  • 1997 Jay J. King * Department of Corrections (SCI)
  • 1996 Dan Hall* & Jeff Oldham Delaware State Police
  • 1995 Creig W. Doyle Rehoboth Beach Police Dept
  • 1994 Joseph N. Forester Delaware State Police
  • 1993 Susan K. Poley * Newark Police Department
  • 1992 Edward L. Mayfield, Jr. Delaware State Police
  • 1991 Preston A. Lewis Delaware State Police
  • 1990 Gregory D. Nolt * Delaware State Police
  • 1989 D. Scott Peck Delaware River & Bay Authority
  • 1988 John M. Miller * Delaware State Police
  • 1987 Douglas F. Tuttle University of Delaware

*Represented Delaware in Final Leg to Special Olympics National or World Games

(photo courtesy of Dan Cook, Cape Gazette)

Winnie Spence strongly felt that law enforcement officers should be running with a lit torch at all times. He wanted each officer to understand the importance of carrying the Special Olympics flame of hope. With multiple torches, Winnie proceeded to greet each torch runner every 2 miles with a freshly lit torch. He did that for 160 miles of the run each year, every year, for 21 years, until 2014.

In tribute to his efforts, upon his passing in May 2015, SODE named its annual Torch Runner of the Year award as the William “Winnie” Spence Torch Runner of the Year. A longtime coach and board member with SODE and member of its Hall of Fame, it’s a way to honor a man for not only his efforts to keep the flame burning bright every June, but his passion for making a difference in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all year long.