NEWTON, NJ—Rising with the sun, the Newton Police Department, along with many other police departments around the state, came together to run in the annual Special Olympics of New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run, which is held every June 10.

Most of Newton's police officers gathered at 6:00 a.m. in front of the old courthouse in the center of Newton on Friday, June 10, along with students and staff from Newton High School’s Life Skills class.

The statewide event runs through 300 towns and covers 750 miles on foot. The day-long event is split into 26 legs or starting points, beginning at various times, some as early as 4:45 a.m.

Sign Up for E-News

“Newton’s leg was about 7.25 miles and began at 6:30 a.m. We ran from the courthouse around the top of the square and down to the old theater with the students and teachers,” said Officer Mike Monaco, who was the organizer of the event for the Newton Police Department.

The Newton Police officers then continued from the theater down Newton Sparta Road, meeting up with a group coming from Vernon and continuing through Andover and ending in Sparta, “where the torch was handed off,” according to Officer Monaco.

Runners from the Newton Police Department:

  • Chief Mike Richards,
  • Lt. Robert Osborn,
  • Lt. Mark Zappa,
  • Sgt. Frank Philhower,
  • Sgt. Mike Monaco,
  • Sgt. Dean Coppolella,
  • Det. Tom Muller,
  • Det. Steve VanNieuwland,
  • Ptl. Shawn Burke,
  • Ptl. Jose Morales,
  • Ptl. Russell Rost,
  • Ptl. Edward Sperling,
  • Special Officer Raul Couce,
  • Special Officer Steve Moran, and
  • Special Officer Don Donofrio.

Other volunteer participants:

  • Sussex County Sheriff Officers Christian Peterson and Samantha Schilling,
  • Newton Police Operator Dave Dolan,
  • Andover Tsp. Patrolmen Andrew Moore, Alex Price and Matt Puccio,
  • Stanhope Ptl. Kurt Eller who joined the run.
  • Newton Ptl. John Flanagan and Ptl. Ken Teets helped with traffic and assisted the runners into Andover Tsp.

In the beginning, the goal was to raise $1,000 for the cause.

“We raised in excess of $1,700 and presented a check to the Special Olympics area coordinator and Port Authority Police Officer Jerry Colligan,” said Officer Monaco, who was present as Newton began its leg of the run.

Both the officers and Fusco’s Life Skills Class raised money for the event. The school had a dress down day for the teachers and sold torches during lunch periods.  

Five students from Newton High School, along with a few alumni and several teachers including Liz Fusco, who helped organize the school’s side of the event, Mike Bussow, Kate Adam, Jack Choma, Diana Eigner, Theresa Fanella, Cynthia Biasi and others all volunteered for the run.

“All involved said they had a great experience and look forward to participating again for years to come,” said Officer Monaco.