UNION, NJ – Union law enforcement officers, members of the Union High School cross county running club, the RWB Racing Team, and other organization members, including three Burnet School athletes bound for the New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games, joined together for the Torch Run kickoff in front of the Union Police station on Friday morning.
After the Torch Run, Burnet Middle School athletes Orenthea Senior, Wilbert Jones, and Morris O'Neal headed to The College of New Jersey, where they were to compete in the three-day event, coached by Burnet School teacher Maria Fiordilino and paraprofessional David Castaneda. The Burnet student-athletes are:
- Eighth grader Orenthea Senior, shot put and javelin
- Seventh grader Wilbert Jones, shot put and javelin
- Morris O'Neal, sixth grade, 25m and 50 dash.
Castaneda said he has been part of Play Unified for three years, coaching in unified bowling tournaments. “This year I sought to expand the program to compete in Special Olympics track and field,” he said. Castaneda took a team of three student athletes to the Special Olympics Regional track-and-field event in Old Bridge on April 27. “These students were the first in our school's history to compete,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
At the April 27 event, students competed in six events, with six first place finishes, and brought home two gold medals each, moving them onto the June 7-9 events in Trenton.
About the upcoming weekend events, O’Neal said, “I feel good. I feel excited.”
“Each year members of the Township of Union Police Department are eager to participate in this wonderful running event,” said Union police Mike Loguidice. Runners raised $3,315, Loguidice said.
Runners ran to Millburn and passed off the torch to members of the Millburn Police Department. Throughout the state on Friday, more than 3,000 officers took to the streets of their local communities on one of 26 separate routes to help carry the "Flame of Hope" to the Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games. The culmination of the run was the lighting of the Special Olympics New Jersey cauldron at the Opening Ceremony to officially open the 2019 Summer Games, an event that features more than 2,500 Special Olympics athletes.
TAPinto Union will provide information on the Burnet Middle School student's performance when it becomes available.