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Grand Forks trooper joining national Special Olympics torch run

Travis Nelson

Travis Nelson, a trooper with the North Dakota Highway Patrol in Grand Forks, will be among law enforcement officials accompanying the national Special Olympics torch on Sunday.

“It was a real honor to be picked,” he said in an interview from the New Jersey area, where the games are being held today through June 21.

Nelson will represent North Dakota, joining law enforcement representatives from each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. These “Guardians of the Flame” have been running since Wednesday but Nelson will join the prestigious group making the final leg to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., according to Special Olympics.

He said each leg takes place in a different location to spread awareness about the event.

During training this week, he said he has had the opportunity to run in Manhattan through Times Square and the National Sept. 11 Memorial.

A UND graduate who joined the Highway Patrol in 2007, Nelson has been assigned to Grand Forks since 2010. Here he has volunteered yearly with the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics.

He was nominated for the torch run by Capt. Aaron Hummel, a former commander of the patrol’s regional office in Grand Forks, because of his work with that fundraiser.

Since 2006, groups of law enforcement agents have taken part in the torch run, accompanying Special Olympic athletes on torch runs.

“It’s been a really great experience so far,” Nelson said. “It’s fun meeting different people and athletes.”

“I hope to bring some of my experiences back to North Dakota,” he said. “I just want to help keep moving the Special Olympics forward.”