Plattsburgh They started in Rouses Point, a large group of individuals from law enforcement focused on a sole cause as they stretched their legs in preparation.
They pushed themselves, running to Plattsburgh and stopping at the steps of City Hall, tired, but more invigorated and determined than when they started.
It’s about awareness, and it’s also about money, but mostly it was about giving to a group of people who sometimes need it the most.
“We do the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics yearly,” said Bernie Bullis, Troop B Recruitment Officer for the New York State Police.
The run is the largest grassroots fundraising and public awareness campaign for Special Olympics in the world.
Iin addition to carrying the “Flame of Hope” to their local and state Special Olympic games, law enforcement organizes and conducts fundraising initiatives such as polar plunges, merchandise sales and golf outings.
In 2010, the combined events raised more than $38 million internationally. Last year in New York, the events raised more than $1 million for Special Olympics’ athletes.
Special Olympics New York has more than 55,000 athletes across the state who compete and train in 22 Olympic style sports throughout the year at no cost to themselves or their families.
For the 26th year, law enforcement will carry the Special Olympics torch throughout various communities leading up to the opening ceremony at the state Summer Games. The cauldron will be lit on June 15 in Buffalo.
Since its inception, more than $52 million has been raised through law enforcement events in New York, providing training, equipment, venues, uniforms and transportation for hundreds of Special Olympics athletes.
“We run to raise awareness for those who are sometimes not able to,” Bullis said. “We are part of the community and it is a way to give back to the community.”
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It provides year-round training and competitions to more than 3.7 million athletes around the world.
The Special Olympics provides sports, training opportunities, discipline and opportunities to socialize, said Kaila Horton, Special Olympics New York Director of Development.
“They grow and learn from that.”
For more information, go to www.specialolympicsny.org. For information about the Polar Plunge, go to www.polarplungeny.org.