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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 10, 2009

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 961-6682


SUFFOLK COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT LENDS SUPPORT TO SPECIAL OLYMPICS

Sheriff’s Department Lt. William Munroe and Officer Marvin Lamarre with Robert Johnson, President and CEO of Massachusetts Special Olympics.


The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department stepped up once again in its annual support of Special Olympics of Massachusetts. In two separate events, held during the final weeks of June, Department officers and staff came out to sponsor this remarkable organization by participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run and the Cruiser Convoy.

For the final leg of the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which commenced on Friday, June 19, Sheriff’s Department officers manned cruisers to lead runners along a 3-mile course that began at Boston College’s Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill and continued along Commonwealth Avenue to the Boston University Indoor Track & Tennis Center located in Allston. The Center was also the site of the opening ceremony and kick-off to the 2009 Summer Olympics games taking place over the weekend.

Hundreds of Special Olympics athletes cheered as LETR participants entered the Center carrying the brightly burning Flame of Hope torch, which was then used to light the ceremonial cauldron to signify the official start the summer games.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the Special Olympics’ largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle across the US, having raised $34 million dollars for Special Olympics Programs around the world in 2008. The Massachusetts LETR event features members of the law enforcement community from across the State of Massachusetts who share in the responsibility of guarding and carrying the Flame of Hope through their respective towns and into local sporting events as an opener to the ceremonies.

As a prelude to the event’s kickoff, Steve Tompkins – Chief of External Affairs for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department – hosted an edition of the Department’s weekly Common Ground cable show on Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN-TV) that featured Robert Johnson, President & CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts. The two discussed the role of Special Olympics, the organization’s new headquarters – presently under construction in Marlboro, MA, and promoted the two law enforcement events.

"The Law Enforcement Torch Run serves a vital public relations role within Special Olympics,” said Robert Johnson. “Law Enforcement, for the past 27 years, has served as the official ‘keeper’ of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope. This program also provides an opportunity for our athletes to get to know members of law enforcement on a more personal level and vice-versa. Special Olympics Massachusetts is grateful to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department for its involvement in the Law Enforcement Torch Run."

The second of the two events benefiting Special Olympics, the second-annual Cruiser Convoy, was held on Saturday, June 20. Many law enforcement agencies from across the state converged at specified checkpoints and drove in a large, unified fleet to greet the Olympians at the athletic fields of Harvard University. Officers in the contingent, including representatives from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, participated in the closing of the summer games, awarding of medals to winning athletes, and a celebratory BBQ.

According to Steve Huftalen, Director of Special Events for Special Olympics, over 100 vehicles participated in the Cruiser Convoy and nearly $10,000 was raised in support of the athletes of Special Olympics Massachusetts.

“Spirits were high and smiles were plentiful,” said Huftalen. “It was truly a sight to behold and both officers and athletes are already looking forward to 2010 with tremendous excitement.”

About Special Olympics Massachusetts
The mission of Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of well-coached Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Massachusetts also provides athletes with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, prepare for entry into school and community programs, express courage, experience joy, and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics Athletes, and the community. The statewide program supports 11,639 athletes and Unified Partners who are assisted by 1,642 coaches and 12,343 volunteers. For more information visit http://www.SpecialOlympicsMA.org.



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