Peter Abbarno Commentary: Lewis County Special Olympics Athletes Need Our Support


As if polar plunging into frigid Mayfield Lake with the Lewis County Icicle Brigade wasn’t enough, I decided to once again punish my body for a great cause; the Lewis County Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics.  I hope you or your business will join me by raising money and awareness for our local athletes.

On June 17, local law enforcement agencies, Special Olympics athletes, friends, family, and supporters like myself will run over 13 miles from Napavine to Centralia carrying the Special Olympics Torch. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a chance to raise money and awareness for the resources necessary to provide every athlete the opportunity train and compete. 

In January, our Lewis County Icicle Brigade raised over $7,000 with 39 member; ranking first in number of team members and eight out of 65 teams in fundraising. Your continued support for the Lewis County Special Olympics Team will help keep the momentum strong.

Special Olympics, established in 1968, is a global organization that serves athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year. Today, Special Olympics has over 5.7 million athletes competing in more than 200 countries. In the State of Washington, almost 20,000 athletes compete annually. Unfortunately, for every athlete that competes, there are 13 more individuals with intellectual disabilities waiting for their chance.

I believe every athlete deserves an opportunity to be successful and do what they love. Following the cancellation of competitions and practices over the past two years, our Special Olympics’ athletes were disproportionately impacted.  The athletes, coaches, and families need this now more than ever. Here is our community’s chance!

Traditionally, these articles focus on state legislative action and policies. And, there has been progress made at the local and state level to assist members of the developmental disability community and their families.

As a Centralia City Councilmember, I was honored to work on improving the accessibility of our community, parks, and playgrounds, and proud to speak at the first annual Inclusion Luncheon hosted by the Autism Coalition. 

As a State Legislator, I supported historic investment in accessibility through the Capital Budget and legislation like Senate Bill 5790 and Senate Bill 5819; both sponsored by my 20th District seatmate Senator John Braun.  SB 5790 strengthens critical community support services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and SB 5819 addresses the Developmental Disabilities Administration’s non-paid services caseload.

While legislative and governmental support is important, the best support comes from our community and its members. Local community support truly makes the day-to-day difference and raises the most awareness. Thank you in advance for your support, and thank you to Centralia Officer Ruben Ramirez, Branda Pagett, City of Centralia Police Department, City of Chehalis Police Department, Napavine Police Department, Chehalis Tribal Police, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, and all those volunteering, organizing, and supporting the 2022 Law Enforcement Torch Run.

If you see us running on June 17, be sure to honk your vehicle horn and wave to our athletes to show your support. If you are a business in downtown Chehalis or Centralia, stay tuned for updates and consider coming out and cheering us on. If you interested in volunteering or coaching a Special Olympics Team, visit or the Lewis County Special Olympics Facebook page. 

And, if you are able to financially support the Lewis County Special Olympics, consider sending a donation payable to the Centralia Police Officers Association, c/o Special Olympics, PO Box 609, Centralia, WA 98531.


Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District in the Washington State House of Representatives. Rep. Abbarno is a local attorney and business owner with the law firm Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP and annually participates in Polar Plunge and Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics of Washington.