Police Carry the Torch for Some Special Athletes

2012 Law Enforcement Torch Run for the NY Special Olympics raises funds and awareness.

It was a special day in Farmingdale, with hundreds of law enforcement officers descending upon the . Nothing was amiss, in fact, they were there working up a sweat, alongside some very special athletes.

Police from local and state departments ran with Special Olympians in the 2012 Law Enforcement Torch Run. The run takes the athletes across Long Island, ending smack in the middle of the campus' Great Lawn. A great way to stay in shape, but mainly, all about keeping the flame of the Special Olympics burning strong.

"Law enforcement is so supportive of Special Olympics, it gives us an opportunity to showcase what they're doing for us, and shows our athletes that others are training really hard [too]," said Diane Colonna of Special Olympics New York.

The run consists of a Nassau leg, starting at the Green Acres Mall, and a Suffolk leg, kicking off at the East Islip Fire Department. Runners can run any length they feel they're up to. It is tough to top Special Olympian Trent Hampton of West Babylon, who did the full 20 miles.

"[The run] is about general hope and support so that we can compete, travel and represent Long Island," Hampton said.

That would be in the upcoming Special Olympics NY Summer Games, getting underway next week in Buffalo. It's the culmination of everything the police and the athletes do over the course of the year, and in reality, many years.

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"[Law enforcement] is the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics," Colonna said. "They have been supportive of special Olympics from the get go ... as long as there's been Special Olympics, there's been law enforcement right beside us."

Torch Runs take place nationwide, and last year raised more than $38 million for Special Olympics. Funds come from sponsorships and t-shirt sales, but the most important currency is awareness, and that's where the Torch Run shines brightest.

"It's nice to know you're doing something productive for the community," said Mike McCrann of the State University Police at Farmingdale. "Something to help disadvantaged people who could use us to help them get some exposure."

Judging by the turnout at the run, mutual respect from both sides could not be any higher.

"Without [police], the world would be chaotic, we have to have our law enforcement to protect us, to create order in the community, and to support athletes with disabilities such as myself," Hampton said.


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