SUMMIT, NJ - Conceived in 1984, the New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run involves more than 3,000 officers and raises more than $3 million annually for Special Olympics statewide.
On June 9, members of the Summit Police Department and several Summit Public School District teachers collected 'The Flame of Hope' from their Millburn counterparts, transported it down Springfield Avenue and handed it off to members of the New Providence Police Department.
The 'Flame of Hope' eventually made its way to the 2017 Special Olympics Summer Games in Ewing, where it was used to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.
Among those participating were Summit Police Officers Jeffrey Deets, Keith Kwiatek, Donald DeFilippis, Paulo Santos, Lenny Franchino, and Rudy Garita, who were joined by Summit Public Schools faculty members Neal Sharma, Erin Fogarty and John Ross.
Driven by the willingness of the New Jersey Law Enforcement officers to do more, the Law Enforcement Torch Run began to expand over the years. Fundraising events that are conducted year-round in New Jersey include an Adopt-a-Cop campaign for the annual Torch Run, three Polar Bear Plunges, the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5K, the United Airlines Plane Pull and golf outings. In addition to fundraising, Law Enforcement officers volunteer at athlete competitions and events year-round, while serving as ambassadors in local communities.
The initiative raised more than $3.7 million in 2016 for Special Olympics New Jersey.
At The College of New Jersey, more than 2,500 athletes will compete in aquatics, bocce, gymnastics, powerlifting, softball, tennis and track and field. For more information on the event, which runs through June 11, visit sonj.org.