SANFORD, Maine — The Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run kicks off Tuesday to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Maine.

The tradition began in 1981 in Wichita, Kansas by Police Chief Richard LaMunyon. He knew there was a need for funds for Special Olympics and wanted to get his officers more involved with the community.

After three years of successful runs, LaMunyon took his idea to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 1984, the Torch Run was taken to Maine by Chief Robert Bell. Today, it's held in all 50 states and in over 100 countries.

RELATED: Maine Special Olympics athletes head to Abu Dhabi
RELATED: Mainers making memories at Special Olympics USA games

This is one of Maine's largest fundraising events for the Special Olympics. Last year, the Torch Run raised about $400,000 for Special Olympics Maine. With over a $1-million annual budget, the organization says those are much needed funds.

The run kicks off at the Sanford Police Department at 7:45 a.m. and will make its way to Kittery. On Wednesday, the torch will head to Brunswick via Route One and to Waterville from several different legs. It will also come down from Fort Kent and Madawaska.

All ends of the run will culminate at the University of Maine Orono on Friday, June 7 for the final leg and ceremony at 4 p.m. It will continue in the parade and opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics State Summer Games at 5 p.m.

For more information on the Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run, contact Lisa Bird at 207-879-0489 or lisab@somaine.org.