OSWEGO-FULTON, NY – Nearly two dozen members of area law enforcement agencies were pounding the pavement in the heat and humidity for more than two hours straight today (May 26) for a good cause.
For decades, police officers throughout Oswego County have participated in the annual “Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.”
Today, officers representing the cities of Fulton and Oswego, the county and others carried on the tradition.
They ran from the Oswego Police Department to the Fulton Police Department.
For safety, they had an escort of police vehicles the entire route.
Cassandra Rucker, director of development, Special Olympics New York Central Region, said, “Today’s run traveled about 12 miles from the Oswego PD to the Fulton PD. We’re raising awareness for the 65,000 Special Olympics athletes of New York.”
This is the 29th year that they’ve done Torch Run in New York State; law enforcement raised more than $2 million last year for Special Olympics.
There is a really special bond between Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement.
“The athletes look up to the members of law enforcement so much and law enforcement is truly inspired by the triumphs that our athletes have,” Rucker told Oswego County Today.
Over the next two weeks, nine torch runs will be held in Central New York.
The annual fundraiser continues to grow; just a few years ago, there were only three runs in Central New York.
Members the Oswego Police Department, Fulton Police Department, Oswego County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Police participated in today’s run.
“Nearly 600 members of our Central New York law enforcement community will take part in this year’s nine Torch Run events, including Oswego Country,” said event organizer Lt. Charlie Searor of the Oswego Police Department. “Our mission is to raise awareness and funds for the 65,000 athletes of Special Olympics New York.”
The “Flame of Hope,” carried from the Oswego Police Department to Fulton Police Department today will continue its journey into early June.
The Special Olympics New York athletes will compete at the 2015 Special Olympics New York Summer Games, June 5-8, at SUNY Brockport.
Nearly 2,000 Special Olympics New York athletes, coaches and volunteers are expected to attend the weekend of completion including basketball, volleyball, track and field, tennis, bowling, gymnastics, swimming and powerlifting, Rucker said.
The runs are designed to focus attention on the Special Olympics.
The torch run came to New York in 1985.
The LETR for Special Olympics is the movement’s largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics in the world.
The event began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise funds for and increase awareness of Special Olympics.
The run was quickly adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, now recognized as the founding law enforcement organization of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
“The event was a success. We had a number of agencies take part in this run both to raise awareness and money for Special Olympic athletes,” said Lt. Searor today. “The money that’s raised through this event gives Special Olympic athletes the opportunity to take part in athletic events throughout the state.”
They also have “Cops on Top” coming up, which is July 17 and is held at Dunkin’ Donuts to help raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics, Rucker added.
“We’ll have cops at approximately 30 Dunkin’ Donuts in the region, from Binghamton to Watertown,” Rucker said. “We collect around $35,000. It’s super cool. Everybody gets free coffee; you make a donation and Dunkin’ Donuts gives you a coupon for free coffee. How can you lose? This will be our fourth year. Oswego was one of our seven first test markets.”
More than 142,000 law enforcement officers in all 50 states, 12 Canadian provinces and 48 countries contribute to Torch Run efforts annually as Guardians of the Flame, ensuring the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the opening ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial games and national games.
Since 1987, law enforcement officers from around the world have gathered to carry the Flame of Hope in a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg in conjunction with Special Olympics World Summer and World Winter Games.
Celebrating its 29th anniversary in New York, Law Enforcement Torch Run is the movement’s largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle, raising almost $2 million for the athletes of Special Olympics New York in 2014.
This is accomplished through events including Torch Run, Polar Plunge and Law & Orders.
Special Olympics is the largest amateur sports organization in the world.
With more than 65,000 athletes, Special Olympics New York is the largest chapter in North America and the sixth largest chapter in the world.
Special Olympics New York athletes train and compete year-round in 22 sports – at no cost to the athlete, their families or their caregivers.
For more information or to donate visit www.nyso.org