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Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” passes through Fayetteville

DeWitt Police Officers participate in the 2013 Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics.

DeWitt Police Officers participate in the 2013 Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics. Submitted photo

— On June 11, law enforcement officials from across New York State joined in to run the second leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which began in Oneida at 9:30 a.m. and concluded in Camillus around 2:15 p.m. Fayetteville marked the halfway point for the officers, who had all biked from Oneida. When they arrived in the Fayetteville Towne Center, they dropped their bikes and began running the second half.

Law enforcement officials and the Special Olympics have had a partnership for 27 years, said Cassandra Rucker, Director of Development for the New York State Special Olympics. She said that local, state and federal officers carry the flame across the state to bring awareness and fundraising during the week leading up to the New York State Special Olympic games, which were held in Buffalo on June 15.

Only a few officials began the trek in Oneida, but as they passed through different locations, more officers joined the group. After the pack left Fayetteville, the officials ran down Erie Boulevard for about six miles before turning onto Milton Avenue and making a stop at the Solvay Fire Department. From there, it wasn’t a long run to the Camillus Walmart, the final stop of leg two. By the time the group reached Camillus, the number of participants had grown substantially.

On the way through Fayetteville, the officers had their own cheering section as they biked past Creative Environment Day School on Route 5. Children at the school have been going outside to cheer and learn about the Special Olympics for the last five years, said Sheila Brittain, owner of Creative Environment. Three law enforcement officers made a special stop at the school to teach the students about the Special Olympics and what kinds of games the participants play.

“I would say gymnastics… and torch run!” said Gabriella Iannotti, 17, of North Syracuse, when asked about her favorite thing about competing in the Special Olympics. Iannotti was one of three athletes who followed the LETR in a car, beginning in Oneida. All three carried the torch during the last leg of the run. On June 12, the LETR went from Elbridge to Canandaigua and the final leg was completed on June 13, in Cortland.

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