On Friday, June 10, students and staff from Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway lined the street of St. Georges Avenue to show their support of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics NJ. They cheered on Rahway police and fire department officials as they ran down the street carrying the torch that ignited the beginning of the Special Olympics which took place over the weekend. It is just one of the many ways that people can express their acceptance of those with disabilities.
“When the announcement was made to line up on St. Georges Ave. to support the Special Olympics my kids were so excited. As the runners approached they were full of questions, like ‘How long are they running?’ My students felt good about themselves and really wanted to cheer on the runners,” said fourth-grade teacher Tara DelSordi of Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway.
“I thought it was really fun to watch the Torch Run,” said fourth grader Jenna Maher of Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway. “I know a boy named George who is disabled. We are actually a lot alike. We’re both very friendly and always wave to everyone. I think it’s important to support people with disabilities because they are no different than us. I was very happy to be there to support the Special Olympics.”
“It was a really cool experience to watch the police and fire department run on St. Georges Avenue,” said fourth grader Madalone Caputo of Roosevelt Elementary School in Rahway. “I think it’s cool to support people with disabilities. I know a girl named Veena who is disabled. We are both alike. We’re both friendly and friends with everyone. I think it’s important to support people with disabilities because it’s important to show them that they are capable of doing the things they want to do. I had a lot of fun watching the Torch Run. It made me feel good knowing that I was supporting people with disabilities.”
Each year, the Flame of Hope is carried by law enforcement to the opening ceremony of Special Olympics NJ. The Torch Run is more than just a run as it encompasses several opportunities for fundraising such as t-shirt and merchandise sales. The mission of the Torch Run is to inspire people to open their minds to accept and include people with disabilities. It reminds us that although we are all different, we also share many similarities. It first began in the year 1981.
Approximately 2,500 athletes participated in Special Olympics. They received insurance, facilities, equipment, uniforms, housing and meals all free of charge. The event took place at the Special Olympics Sports Complex in Lawrenceville. They participated in events such as powerlifting, bocce, gymnastics and track and field. After completing a medical and consent form, all athletes ages eight and older with a disability were welcome to participate. The Torch Run is a statewide campaign coordinated and managed by all divisions of law enforcement officers and officials from throughout the state. For more information, visit www.njtorchrun.org.