ROXBURY, NJ – The heat and humidity were both on the climb Friday morning when Roxbury police got their chance to run while carrying a flaming object.
For those who signed on to participate in the annual New Jersey Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, a little perspiration was a worthwhile expenditure.
In fact, police from local towns that were not on the High Point-to-Raritan route for the charity event joined Roxbury’s runners just because they liked the idea of carrying the “Flame of Hope” for a distance. “From Roxbury, we had about 15 runners, but we also had officers from Mount Arlington, Mount Olive,” said Roxbury Police Sgt. Steven Curtiss. “The torch route didn’t go through their towns, so they went with us. They enjoy doing this as much as we do.”
The annual Torch Run, which began in 1983, raises money for Special Olympics New Jersey. About 3,000 law enforcement officers participated, carrying torches on 26 different “legs” that converge until one torch is carried into The College of New Jersey in Ewing, where the games take place.
Roxbury was part of Route 1a, which started at High Point State Park in Sussex County. State park rangers covered the first section, beginning at 5:15 a.m. and carrying the torch down the mountain. The torch reached the hands of Roxbury officers, and their local colleagues, at 10 a.m. when a contingent of State Police handed it off at the Netcong ShopRite.
Curtiss noted that ShopRite is a major sponsor of the Torch Run. In fact, the Roxbury contingent – helped by Hopatcong High School student Becca Twaitt, carried the torch to another ShopRite, the one in Succasunna. It left Roxbury hands at the Jim Salerno car dealership.
Curtiss said each officer from Roxbury got to carry the torch about a quarter mile, the goal being to “get the flame through as quickly as possible.” This type of relay system works in places where there are a lot of officers. “Some towns don’t do a relay,” Curtiss said. “There are some areas in Sussex County where you don’t have enough officers to cover the distance so there are some 10- to 15-mile stretches with some officers running it on their own.”
Although there are some within the Roxbury Police Department ranks who are runners, and capable of easily carrying the torch the entire 8-mile route through the township, Curtiss said the Torch Run is not supposed to be an endurance test. “It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s more for the kids.”