LAKE PLACID - The Special Olympics Torch began its journey to Buffalo, the site of this year's Games, with a stop at the Olympic Oval in Lake Placid on Friday, June 1. The visit was part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run as law enforcement agencies from the area took part in a trek from Saranac Lake to the Olympic Village.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) - largest grassroots fundraising and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics in the world - included four athletes from Saranac Lake who are taking part in the Special Olympics.
According to Trooper Bernie Bullis, a New York State Police recruitment officer who helped organize the local effort, the run provides law enforcement members an opportunity to support a great cause, while also giving them the chance to give back to the communities they serve.
Brian Ojida, a member of the SORT?team at the Federal Correctional Institute in Ray Brook, carries the Special Olympics torch as he leads the Law Enforcement Torch Run Friday, June 1.
Photo/Richard Rosentreter/Lake Placid News
Law enforcement members involved in Friday's torch run included the Lake Placid and Lake Placid police departments, Essex County sheriffs, Federal Corrections Institute and the New York State Police SORT teams, state Department of Environmental police and retired police officers.
This is the 26th year that law enforcement officers have carried the torch through communities around the state, and during that time span, more than $5.2 million has been raised. The conclusion of the torch runs will come with the lighting of the cauldron in Buffalo on June 15 at the opening ceremonies. Nearly 24 torch runs are scheduled to be held across New York state leading up to the Special Olympics being held June 15-17.
Jason Borden, Darick Pickering, Josh Ryan and Jason Borden, all athletes from Saranac Laker, will be going to Buffalo to compete in the Special Olympics, and joined in the run.
The athletes and law enforcement officials started off with the torch at Riversie Park in Saranac Lake at around 9 a.m. and traveled more than 10 miles down state Route 86, arriving at the Oval at around 11 a.m. Pizza from Bazzi's Pizza was provided for all participants following the run.
Local businesses including Flight Line Express, F.O.P. Lodge 999, Adirondack Bank of Lake Placid, Community Bank of Lake Placid, Pan Dolce, Olive Ridley's, Naked Turtle Holding Co., Hannaford of Lake Placid, Howard Johnson Restaurant and Lake Placid Summit Hotel were among sponsors for the run. Those businesses are featured on the 2012 Torch Run dri-fit t-shirt.
In addition to carrying the "Flame of Hope" to their local and state Special Olympic games, law enforcement officials organize and conduct additional fundraising initiatives such as Polar Plunges, Merchandise Sales and Golf Outings. In 2010, more than $38 million was raised internationally through LETR events.
Special Olympics New York has more than 55,000 athletes across New York state compete and train in 22 Olympic-style sports throughout the year.