FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
SUFFOLK COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT CONTINUES SUPPORT OF SPECIAL OLYMPICS WITH “TORCH RUN”
Recently, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department took part in what has become a yearly tradition of support for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA) during their annual Summer Games.
Participating in the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) helped to usher the Flame of Hope along Commonwealth Avenue and into Boston College’s Alumnae Stadium where it was used to light the ceremonial cauldron signifying the beginning of the SOMA Summer Games.
Founded in 1981, when a Wichita, Kansas Police Chief named Richard LaMunyon sought to address an urgent fundraising need for and increase awareness of Special Olympics, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is “an actual running event in which officers and athletes run the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremony of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games, and National Summer or Winter Games. Every two years, law enforcement officers from around the world gather to carry the Flame of Hope in a Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg in honor of the Special Olympics World Summer or World Winter Games.”
Taking part in the Torch Run for the first time, SCSD Training Academy Instructor and Deputy Julio Pena brought along a class of new recruits to run with and help support the Special Olympics, an organization that instantly took residence within a special place in his heart.
“The LETR was amazing,” said Deputy Pena. “It was a privilege to take part in something so special, and representing the Department brought true meaning to public service. The 3.5 mile run to the stadium is nothing compared to what a lot of the athletes of the Special Olympics and their families have endured and yet they treated us as if we were champions. In fact, the true champions, leaders and motivators are the athletes of the Special Olympics themselves.”
Offering praise for some of the other participants who helped to make the day an unqualified success was Steve Huftalen, Director of Special Events for the Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
“Once again, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department showed its tremendous support of Special Olympics Massachusetts at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2011 Summer Games,” said Huftalen. “The SCSD Honor Guard played a major role in the traditional Parade of Athletes by setting the stage for their entrance. In addition, the Sheriff’s Department also had its training officer class help escort the Flame of Hope down Commonwealth Avenue and into Opening Ceremonies to declare the games open. The dedication and support from everyone at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department is something that the 2,000 Athletes at Summer Games rely on, appreciate and look forward to every year.”
According to Deputy Pena, if it is within his power to do so, he’ll be there to answer the call once again.
“The show of appreciation, the smiles, the high fives and ‘thank you’s’ made me feel as if I could run 100 miles,” said Pena. “I plan on participating in the LETR for many years to come. Personally, it’s gratifying to participate in such a worthy cause, and professionally an honor to continue representing the Department.”
Offering competitions and training in 26 core sports, the Special Olympics of Massachusetts’ mission 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.