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Special Olympics Torch Run Comes Through Newtown



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Community members showed up in full force for the 38th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Friday, May 31.

Participants in the Torch Run, which included staff from Better Day Café and officers from Newtown Police Department and Garner Correctional Institution, were cheered on by a small group of people as they completed their five mile run starting from Dodgingtown Market and finishing at Blue Colony Diner. Everyone had a bright smile on their face when they finally arrived at Blue Colony, and celebrated their efforts with high fives and hugs all around.

Officers and athletes carry the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” Torch all across the state on foot, bike, and motorcycle to promote inclusion for people of all abilities and to honor the athletes in Special Olympics Connecticut. The Special Olympics Torch was carried to different towns and cities throughout the state

A total of four NPD officers ran for the event, while two officers rode vehicles beside the participants. One of the runners included NPD officer Steve Borges, who carried the torch the entire run this year.

Newtown Police Department School Resource Officer Stephanie McDermott said that the officers were excited to bring awareness to the amazing athletes participating in the Special Olympics programs and what the event provides them.

“The athletes work really hard for their accomplishments, and it’s awe-inspiring to see the joy they get out of it,” McDermott said.

NPD Chief of Police David Kullgren said that their agency has been involved with the Special Olympics for 25 years, and that “it’s an honor to support their cause, help give them a purpose, and see them thrive in the athletic field.”

“Our officers take the time to volunteer, to help raise these funds,” Kullgren continued. “And we’re proud of our staff for supporting such a good deed.”

There were also eleven participants from Garner Correctional Institution, including officer Nicole Negron, who GCI Administraton Melanie Hufschmied said was one of the chase vehicle drivers during this leg of the run and instrumental in planning the event and selling shirts.

“It’s just nice to be a part of something larger that the community can see,” Hufschmied said. “We want to do as much as we can to support those in need and to be there for them; to give them hope, purpose, and support.”

The NPD officers who ran in the event include officers Borges, Julio Tardim, Pete Wlasuk, and Frank Piazza. Sergeant Will Chapman rode the NPD Bicycle, and officer Lenny Penna was on the NPD Motorcycle assisted by Brookfield Motorcycle Officer Chris Campbell.

The Better Day Café staff who ran include teachers Jen Radachowsky, Dacia Pace, and Mandy Monaco, alongside students Kaity Kastenek, Lucas Knippel, Matt Vigneau, and Jordan Danica.

The Garner Correctional Institution participants who ran include officers Greg Boucher, Paul Brewer, Gisselle Miranda, Argentina Ortiz, Chris Irizarry, Alana Beckert, Geramy Olan, Correctional Coordinator Matthew Dionne, nurse Chassity Rosado. Officer Negron was a chase vehicle driver during the event.

For more information, visit soct.org, call 203-230-1201, email specialolympicsct@soct.org, or follow Special Olympics Connecticut on Facebook and Instagram.


Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Many community members showed up to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on Friday, May 31. Participants, including Newtown Police Department officers, Better Day Café staff, and Garner Correctional Institution workers, were excited to complete their five mile run starting at Dodgingtown Market and finishing at Blue Colony Diner. —Bee Photo, Visca
Participants from the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics celebrated at the final stop of the event, Blue Colony Diner, by coming together for a big group photo with bright smiles on their faces. —Bee Photo, Visca
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