Delaware law enforcement officers will complete a 160-mile trek in support of Special Olympics Delaware
More than 500 law enforcement officers from throughout Delaware will take part in the 28th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run that kicks off today.
“Every agency across the state is involved in some capacity,” Special Olympics Delaware spokesman Jon Buzby said. “They not only raise money for us throughout the year, but just as importantly they raise public awareness of the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.”
The torch, dubbed the Flame of Hope, will journey from Sussex County to the Special Olympics venue at the University of Delaware over the course of the next three days.
The torch run will have three starting points in Sussex County.
The first will begin with a 7 p.m. ceremony at the Rehoboth Beach Grandstand today and will end at about 8:15 p.m. at Delaware State Police Troop 7 in Lewes, where it will pick back up again at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.
The second begins in Delmar at 6 a.m. on Thursday and will travel through Laurel, Seaford, Bridgeville and Greenwood.
A third will leave Georgetown at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday and head through Ellendale and Milford.
All three torches will meet in Harrington at about 11:15 a.m., when they will be joined together before the united flame is carried through Felton on its way to Legislative Hall in Dover, where it’s slated to arrive about 2 p.m. Thursday.
Following a half-hour ceremony, the torch again will head out toward Troop 9 in Odessa, where it is expected to arrive at 6:10 p.m.
The torch run will be taken up again at 9:45 a.m. on Friday and journey to the Wilmington Police Department before making its way to the University of Delaware about 5:15 p.m. There, the torch will light the Flame of Hope, signaling the official opening of the 2014 Special Olympics Summer Games.
The last leg will be run by DSP Sgt. Jason Stevenson and Elizabeth Nolan, the Special Olympics Delaware 2014 Athlete of the Year.
“Elizabeth is one of our most accomplished athletes,” Buzby said. “She’s been a speaker for Special Olympics and has done several presentations for us. She’s one of those people who has not let her disability get in the way of living a full life.”
By the time the torch is greeted at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center, it will have traveled 160 miles and been accompanied by almost 500 law enforcement officers.
Except for lightning storms, the officers have run in just about any weather condition imaginable over the years.
“It’s just further proof of their commitment and how seriously they take the responsibility of carrying the Flame of Hope from one end of the state to the other,” Buzby said.
Delaware is the only state where the Flame of Hope is carried from one end of the state to the other. Even Rhode Island, the only state smaller than Delaware, doesn’t do that, Buzby said.
It’s a testament to the dedication of the officers involved, he said.
“Some of the officers will run all three days, some will start in Rehoboth and then rejoin the torch on Friday night,” he said. “They do this on their own time and they pay to register out of their own pockets.”
Over the past 27 years, the Delaware Law Enforcement for Special Olympics has raised more than $4.8 million.
For more information on the torch run, and to find a map of the route, visit sode.org.