CECIL COUNTY — Approximately 30 runners, joggers and walkers — some propelling participants in mobility push chairs — made a 10-mile trek Monday through a section of this county during the annual Cecil County Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run.
The muggy, morning temperatures already were flirting with the mid-80s when the fundraiser participants left the Williams Chevrolet dealership parking lot, east of Elkton, and started their westward journey on Route 40 while escorted by Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Maryland State Police troopers and officers with Perryville Police Department and North East Police Department in patrol vehicles.
“We’ve been doing this (Torch Run) for more than 10 years now, and this is one of the hottest runs we’ve ever had. It’s very hot today,” noted Maryland State Police Cpl. Michael Cox, an event planner who, as did some others, ran the course.
Shortly before noon, some two and a half hours later, the runners, joggers and walkers pounded the pavement into North East Community Park — the finish line.
There, after a picnic in the much-appreciated shade of a pavilion, the Flame of Hope was handed to Havre de Grace Police Department Capt. Joe Alton. He, in turn, delivered the torch to Harford County, where the next leg of the Torch Run was set to start on Tuesday.
During the Cecil County run, disabled participants in mobility push chairs took turns holding that torch along the 10-mile route.
Most of them are clients of Bayside Community Network, an Elkton-area care facility for people with disabilities. Through a combination of therapy, education and training, staff at Bayside try to help individuals become as independent as possible. Bayside has about 200 adult clients who are at various levels, with some learning at the center, some volunteering in the community and some working paying jobs with the skills they have learned.
The Flame of Hope, which is a symbolic torch, is destined to arrive at Towson University in time for the opening ceremony of the Maryland Special Olympics Summer Games on Friday. It will burn from a similar, albeit much larger, torch during the weekend event in which hundreds of Special Olympians from throughout the state will compete in track and field and other summer games.
Through the sale of Special Olympics T-shirts and participation fees, the Cecil County Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run generates funds for that cause. With the official tally still pending, the torch run on Monday raised at least $2,600, Cox reported.
The Torch Run is one of two major Special Olympics fundraisers held by law enforcement in this county annually. The other is “Cops on Rooftops” at the Chick-fil-A in Elkton, and it will take place on a yet-to-be-announced date in September.
There are approximately 6,000 Special Olympiads in Maryland, and the money generated by fundraisers is used to cover the many costs to hold the annual games, including training and venue rentals, according to Betsy Jirone, who serves as the Torch Run liaison.