Law enforcement officers show support for Special Olympics

ROUSES POINT Law enforcement officials were out in force last week, but this time they were making strides instead of making arrests. Dozens of off-duty police officers participated in the 26th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run June 5-6, an event that raises money for Special Olympics New York. The nonprofit organization which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with developmental disabilities benefits yearly from the event that is also a statewide kick-off to the Special Olympics Summer Games. The two-day noncompetitive run started at the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge in the village of Rouses Point and continued south for more than 25 miles on State Route 9 to the city of Plattsburgh, with several participants joining in along the way. The event continued June 6 with a more than 50-mile leg from the town of Lewis to the city of Warrensburg. State trooper Bernie Bullis, one of the co-coordinators for this years run, said he has run in the event off and on for the past 10 years. Its been a combination of support for the event from the community and the enjoyment of the participating Olympians that keeps him coming back for more year after year. It reminds you whats nice about living in small communities how people can come together and assist in one endeavor, said Bullis. This endeavor is never because of any one person or one organization. Its a multitude of efforts. Bullis recalled seeing a young man this year during the Essex County section of the run that he had met at last years run through Plattsburgh. It was that smile that made it all worthwhile, he said. He just had the same great expression, recalled Bullis. And thats the feeling he wants all people, even those who arent Olympians, to have when they see him and his colleagues marching for Special Olympics. Growing up, I always saw the state police stopping into athletic events being part of the community or at county fairs its just having that presence, said Bullis. Bullis added he is equally proud to see officers from other branches of law enforcement, including the local sheriffs departments, police departments, and even federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, take the time to show how important causes like Special Olympics are to them. Its support from them and the entire community that has gotten us this far, said Bullis. Cathy Taylor, a senior recreation therapist and coach for the local chapter of Special Olympics, said events like the Torch Run not only help raise necessary funding for the developmentally-disabled to participate in the games, but help raise awareness as well. An event like this is excellent just so we can become more known in the community, said Taylor. We really get a lot of folks with developmental disabilities involved, giving them the opportunity to participate physically, athletically and socially. The team from Area 26, which encompasses the North Country region, consists of approximately 200 athletes from Clinton and Essex counties, said Taylor. Recently, the team returned from a regional competition in Schenectady, with a contingency of 30 athletes expected to participate at the state level in the Special Olympics Summer Games at the State University of New York at Binghamton June 12. For more information about Special Olympics, including how to participate or make donations to support athletes participation, contact Taylor at 561-8190 or area coordinator Barb Thomas, 834-1188. The next local event scheduled to donate a portion of its proceeds to Special Olympics New York is the 2008 D.A. Cup Golf Tournament, which will be held at The Barracks Golf Course in Plattsburgh, Wednesday, June 18. The tournament will be a double shotgun start format, with teams hitting the links at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information, contact coordinator Andrew Wylie via e-mail at wylie3230@aol.com.

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