MISSOULA, Mont. - A Missoula police officer, familiar in the community since he was a kid, is KECI's latest local hero.
A hometown boy, Mark Horner started out as a reserve deputy close to 30 years ago, moving up in rank to sergeant. Through the years, he has become an important player in Special Olympics.
He's been a patrolman, a detective and a SWAT team leader. He is now in charge of the plans unit, that's crime prevention and analyst.
"I love this town," said Horner, "so I like to make sure it's protected."
Horner is an athlete, a body builder, Mr. Montana 1978. So he's a natural at mentoring Special Olympians.
Like a proud dad, he shows off pictures of his athletes in competition.
"Whether they lost or whether they won, they're still going to give you the biggest smile," said Horner.
The policeman was one of only 100 or so officers in the world that went to South Korea for the Special Olympics worldwide.
He's happy to be singled out as a community hero. But he said the runners, jumpers and bikers in his Olympics have courage.
"If I don't get hugs I'm going to get a high five," said Horner, showing a picture of an athlete celebrating with the police officer over his winning medal.
His co-worker Ken Wickman on the force, said Mark is "great with kids. He has a special gift."
Horner is a graduate of then-Loyola High School in Missoula, a school that produced a series of Horner kids. Mark is one of 11 brothers and sisters.
His brother John Horner said Mark "sets the tone for us on how to live a good life."
He said his big brother has committed himself to Missoula.