MONTVILLE, NJ – Escorted by State Police, local and area police, area Special Olympians Bobby Fredericks and Sean Nelligan carried the Special Olympics Torch in its travels across Montville Township on June 12, 2015. The New Jersey games were held June 12 through 14 at The College of New Jersey near Trenton.
Begun in 1982, the Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest fundraising group for the Special Olympics, and this year the group raised $3 million according to Montville Inn owner TJ Nelligan, father of Sean. The family lives in Montville.
“The Montville Inn hosts the Torch Run planning sessions and then the participants have lunch after they've completed their run,” stated Nelligan. “The Law Enforcement Torch Run also plans fundraisers throughout the year, like golf outings and polar bear plunges. The New Jersey chapter is one of the biggest sponsors of the Special Olympics in the world.”
There were 25 Torch Runs in New Jersey last Friday; the one that traversed Montville Township originated in Butler and concluded in Morris Plains, totaling about 26 miles and including 125 runners.
Montville Township Police Officers Sam Greendyk, Anthony Condurso, Scott McGowan, Lt. Andrew Caggiano and Robert Blasi ran with Olympians Bobby and Sean as part of the Torch Run. Patrolman Robert Blasi, who is in charge of the Montville portion, estimates that between $1,000 and $2,000 were raised this year for the Special Olympics. Blasi said that area businesses make donations, as well as the police officers’ union.
“It’s our way of giving back,” Blasi said. “All money raised goes to the Special Olympics.”
Sean and Bobby then competed in track and field events over the course of the weekend.
“I don’t know where I’d be without Special Olympics,” said Fredericks, who lives in Lincoln Park. “I’d be a completely different person.”
Fredericks’ mother Gerie, who is also the coach for the Passaic County team with which her son Bobby and Sean Nelligan participate, said, “It was hard for me to see Bobby on the couch during high school. I knew he couldn’t play on a high school team. But Special Olympics made that happen for him.
“This is the weekend of all weekends for them,” continued Gerie Fredericks. “They get to see their friends all together.
“The best part for me is not when they win, it’s when someone who has never gotten a basket suddenly gets a basket, or a medal – the smile on their face – that’s the best part,” she said.
Bobby Fredericks, who is also a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics, says he has made the Special Olympics more efficient due to his advisement that the awards ceremonies at the World Games in Nebraska in 2010 needed improvement.
“They told us to come back to get our medals, because it was delayed. But for the New Jersey World Games last year, they had more podiums working, giving out medals, because I told them that coming back is no good.”
Sean Nelligan won a gold medal in the 200 meter run and 5th in the softball throw. Sean's relay team earned 5th in the 4x100 relay “in a very close race.” Bobby came in 5th in his 200 meter run, and silver in the 5000 meter. His 4x100 relay took the bronze medal and the 4x400 relay resulted in a gold medal, according to Gerie Fredericks.
But now that this year’s games are over, you can find Sean and Bobby working Tuesdays and Fridays at the Montville Inn, where they prep food and unload delivery trucks.
“I just see them with big smiles on their faces. They take such pride in their work, and they make the other employees work harder because they see how much Bobby and Sean love it,” stated TJ Nelligan.
“Sean and Bobby, along with all our athletes and law enforcement, are very special people and they always manage to put a different perspective to all our lives!” said Gerie.