SOMERVILLE, NJ – Hundreds of law enforcement officers from Somerset County, led by Prosecutor Michael Robertson, carried the “Flame of Hope” through several towns Friday to commemorate this weekend’s New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games held at the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.
The torch that passed its way through Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Somerville and Hillsborough began its journey early Friday in northern New Jersey with the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police, Elizabeth Police and US Customs Officers, working its way south on several legs carried by officers from Roselle, Roselle Park, Cranford, Garwood, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Plainfield, Dunellen, Middlesex, and Bound Brook.
Somerset County Sheriff’s Officers took the torch through Bridgewater, passing it on to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office team in front of the Van derVeer School on Route 28 just as parents were arriving to pick up their children at the end of the school day.
Members of the Somerset County Prosecutor's team included Robertson; Chief of Detectives John Fodor, Capt. Frank Roman, Louis Sanchez-Rosa and assistant prosecutors Kimberly French, Meredith McCall, Nicole McGrath, Jim Lankford and W. Brian Stack.
Robertson and his team, escorted by Somerville Police cars, carried the torch down Route 28, onto Gaston Avenue and down Main Street past the Somerset County Administration Building, cheered on by dozens of their colleagues and other county employees. They worked their way on to Route 206 south, veering off on the Dukes Parkway East exit where they met the Hillsborough Police contingent led by Police Chief Darren Powell.
The teams exchanged greetings, and the torch was passed to the Hillsborough Police team. They continued its journey down Route 206 escorted by State Police Cruisers, until they arrived at the Hillsborough ShopRite parking lot at the intersection of Amwell Road, concluding the journey.
More than 3,000 law enforcement officers throughout New Jersey shucked their uniforms and business suits for running shorts, t-shirts and sneakers to participate in the 34th annual Torch Run. A total of 26 legs were run throughout New Jersey Friday, totaling 750 miles.
More than 2,500 athletes gathered for the opening ceremonies Friday night where a giant cauldron was lit by a torch to signal the opening of the New Jersey Special Olympics games. The athletes will compete in dozens of events on Saturday and Sunday.
“Law enforcement officers pledge to serve and uphold the members of their community, so we feel it is our duty to serve the Special Olympics athletes of New Jersey,” said Chief Robert Belfiore, retired Deputy Chief of the Port Authority of NY/NJ and director of the New Jersey Torch Run.
“As a member of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, I always feel privileged to carry the torch,” he added. “This is our chance to become a champion for the cause, to show the members of our communities how talented our local Special Olympics athletes are.”
The 2016 Torch Run raised $3.7 million for Special Olympics New Jersey through donations from sponsors, the public and individual police departments.