On Friday, June 10, 2016, law enforcement officers in New Jersey will suit up for a different purpose than usual: they will put on their running shoes to carry the “Flame of Hope” throughout the Garden State and into the 2016 Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games, held at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ.
During the 33rd annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey, more than 3,000 officers take to the streets of their local communities, split up into 26 separate legs with some starting as early as 4:45 a.m., running to raise awareness for Special Olympics New Jersey.
Spectators are invited to watch the flame as it is carried through their town, and to cheer on the officers on their journey. For maps or more information, visit www.NJTorchRun.org.
“Law enforcement officers pledge to serve and uphold the members of their community, so we feel it is our duty to serve the Special Olympics athletes of New Jersey,” says Chief Robert Belfiore, Retired Deputy Chief of the Port Authority of NY/NJ and Director of the New Jersey Torch Run. “As a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, I always feel privileged to carry the torch. This is our chance to become a champion for the cause, to show the members of our communities how talented our local Special Olympics athletes are.”
The “Final Leg” of the run is on Friday night at the Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games Opening Ceremony. More than 2,500 Special Olympics athletes, their families and fans, will gather at The College of New Jersey in anticipation of Special Olympics New Jersey’s largest competition event of the year, Summer Games. Over the next two days, athletes will compete in aquatics, bocce, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, tennis, and track and field, where officers continue to volunteer their time by awarding medals to the triumphant athletes.
In addition to the run itself and their participation in the athletes’ awards ceremonies, these officers spend months raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics New Jersey at events like the Polar Bear Plunges, Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5k, Statue of Liberty 5k, United Airlines Plane Pull, Battle the Beach 5k, Dodgetoberfest, multiple golf outings and many smaller local events.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey is recognized as a leader in fundraising among the many programs around the globe, and in 2015 raised more than $3.5 million for the athletes of Special Olympics New Jersey.
“From training to competition, and healthcare to athlete leadership opportunities, Special Olympics New Jersey provides all of its programs completely free of charge to all of its athletes,” says Jason Schubert, Senior Director of Law Enforcement Sponsorship for Special Olympics New Jersey. “That would never be possible without the dedication of our law enforcement officers. They help to raise millions of dollars for our athletes each year.”
For more information on the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run, please visit www.NJTorchRun.org. To see photos of the Torch Run and athletes competing in the 2016 Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games after the event is concluded, visit www.Flickr.com/SONewJersey.