Police officers, both sworn and retired, from the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police and Aberdeen Police and Aberdeen Proving Ground police departments carried the Flame of Hope on an 18-mile journey through Harford County last week to benefit Maryland Special Olympics.
Officers carried the Flame of Hope ceremonial torch through Havre de Grace, Aberdeen, Edgewood and Joppa to raise awareness and money in support of Maryland's Special Olympics. Approximately 25 runners took part in the event. They were supported and safely escorted by sheriff's deputies and state police along with officers from Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments. This year's run was coordinated by DFC Tom French and DFC Matt McGuirk.
Sheriff L. Jesse Bane addressed the runners prior to the start, noting how proud he was of his agency's and law enforcement's dedication to such a worthy cause.
"Sheriff's deputies and local law enforcement are not only committed to keeping Harford County safe, but equally as committed to being an integral part of the community, by supporting programs like Special Olympics," Bane said. He noted this is the 25th year police in Harford County have participated in the Torch Run.
Since 1981, law enforcement agencies nationwide, including Harford County police agencies, have participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Police carry the Flame of Hope Torch from the four corners of Maryland, across the state, to the location where the Special Olympics are being held. Traditionally, police receive the Torch at the Harford/Cecil County border and then run an 18-mile course through Harford County, eventually passing the Torch to police in Baltimore County. This event is well received by police officers every year. Officers can run the entire course or a segment and join in anywhere along the 18-mile trek. Money is raised through the purchase of Torch Run T-shirts and private donations.
In the early 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with at intellectual disabilities at her home in Rockville. What evolved from her commitment to children with special needs was the creation of the Special Olympics, an international sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. Throughout Maryland, thousands of athletes participate in Special Olympic programs every year.