Knowing she wanted to run in high school, 14-year-old Nora Moore joined the Raider Runners running team at Most Holy Redeemer (MHR) Elementary School for her eighth-grade year.

She figured she’d get in shape and be even more prepared for high school.

However, as Moore has discovered, it isn’t only about the running.

Over 70 members of the Raider Runners took part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run on June 4 to help kick off the annual Special Olympics Illinois.

“It’s an amazing feeling because I know I’m supporting a great cause,” Moore said. “I was able to hold the torch and the flag. It makes you feel so good. People should help Special Olympics because it’s a great cause to support.”

The Raiders started their mile-plus run at Little Company of Mary Hospital and ran west on 95th Street, stopping near Portillo’s, Home Depot and Target. The runners were greeted by their classmates at 95th Street and Millard Avenue.

The Torch Run aims to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois.

Between June 2-7, the run covers nearly 1,500 miles on 23 combined legs until arriving for the opening ceremony of the games on June 7 in Normal.

Moore and Isabelle Harmon, both 14, recently graduated from MHR and will attend Marist High School in the fall.

Harmon has been running with the Raiders for six years.

It was the fourth year the club participated in the Torch Run.

“It’s really cool that we can be in a community that supports each other and supports people who need our help,” Harmon said. “That’s pretty cool. It feels great to run.”

The Raiders received a police escort while running on 95th Street.

Jack Watson, 11 and heading into fifth grade this fall, loved the chance to take part in the Torch Run.

“It’s fun to compete in races and practices, so it’s exciting to run with Special Olympics,” Watson said. “You get to run with people with special needs and all the people with Special Olympics. They deserve the attention.”

The Raider Runners practice through a 12-week season that starts in March and continues through early June.

The boys in the club run on Mondays and Wednesdays. The girls compete on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Raiders also recently participated in the 12th annual Running for Hope 5K run/walk.

The team ran on June 5 at the conference meet to wrap up the spring season.

Harmon always appreciates the running community working together, including waves, cheering and honks as they ran on 95th Street.

“You think with running you’ll be running mile after mile, but we do cool things,” Harmon said. “It feels great to be out here. It’s a mental sport, so it helps when your teammates are supporting you to finish that extra lap or extra mile.”

The Evergreen Park Food Pantry aided the Raiders, providing food for the runners and supplying the buses transporting the club from MHR to Little Company.