For Special Olympics, local law enforcement run cross-county

Carroll County's Torch Run consisted of several routes throughout the county, with all law enforcement agencies participating and many sponsoring a Special Olympic athlete, said Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding, who is one of the main organizers for the county's Torch Run.

Special Olympian Braydyn Tabor and Sheriff's Office Cpl. Wes Davis led a pack of runners, cyclists and a motorcade Wednesday as they traveled from McDaniel College to Westminster City Hall to finish the Carroll County Torch Run, an annual tradition that precedes the Maryland Summer Special Olympics.

The Torch Run involves the running of the Special Olympics torch throughout the country to the respective regional locations for the 2015 Summer Special Olympics. In Maryland, several runs will bring their torches to Towson for the games, which begin Friday.


Carroll County's Torch Run consisted of several routes throughout the county, with all law enforcement agencies participating and many sponsoring a Special Olympics athlete, said Westminster police Chief Jeff Spaulding, one of the main organizers of Carroll's Torch Run.

This year, there were 11 Special Olympics athletes who participated, including Braydyn. Each leg of the county's Torch Run had at least one Special Olympian participate.

The Carroll County Torch Run was special because of having all of the law enforcement agencies in the county participate, as well as the number of athletes, Spaulding said.

"It's a great community event. It gives law enforcement an opportunity to support a really super cause," he said.

The Sykesville leg, the largest and longest of the run, started things off at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. More than 100 people, mostly recruits from the Maryland State Police Academy and the Maryland Police Training Commission Academy, ran about 17 miles to McDaniel College alongside three buses, several police cars and motorcycles to meet up with the rest of the groups. Both academies sponsored an athlete — Braydyn by the MSP Academy and Matt Hamilton by the training commission.

Maryland State Police sponsored Nicki Nalesnik, who participated in the Mount Airy leg of the run. Police chiefs and officers from the local municipalities, as well as the Sheriff's Office and State's Attorney's Office, joined the athletes, with Sheriff Jim DeWees biking 15 miles from Union Bridge and State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo joining three athletes for the Torch Run Trek, a 3-mile walk that departed from the Farm Museum in Westminster.

"We love the opportunity to give back, being around the athletes. It just makes you feel good," DeLeonardo said.

Joshua Shoop, sponsored by McDaniel College; Riley Snyder, sponsored by Westminster Police Department; and David Henline, sponsored by the State's Attorney's Office, were the Special Olympians on the Torch Run Trek.

Riley, 14, of Westminster, said her favorite part was riding in the police cars during the final leg of the run, which goes from McDaniel to Westminster City Hall.

"I like walking and riding in the cars," said Joshua, 15, of Westminster, who said he enjoyed the Torch Run this year.

The weather held out for the most part, except for the Trek. About 15 minutes into the walk, the rain started, drenching members of the State's Attorney's Office and Westminster Police Department, as well as Riley and the other participants.

The weather cleared before the final leg, and the participants came together to proceed to City Hall. Two of the athletes helped carry the torches, while the other nine rode in police cars. The final leg kicked off with motorcycles, followed by cyclists, including DeWees, then the two sets of academy recruits before the athletes in cars.

Along the way, the group also picked up runners from four local middle schools who helped finish the final leg.

"It's a great cause. It's a law enforcement cause. Not only locally — but around the state, nation — and something we pour our hearts into," DeWees said.


Special Olympics athletes, sponsored by local police agencies:

•Maryland State Police: Nicki Nalesnik

•Maryland State Police Academy: Braydyn Tabor

•Maryland Police Training Commission Academy: Matt Hamilton

•Taneytown Police Department: Annie Sturgeon

•Carroll Community College: Abigail Kaiser

•McDaniel College: Joshua Shoop

•Westminster Police Department: Riley Snyder

•Carroll County State's Attorney's Office: David Henline

•Carroll County Sheriff's Office: Robby Shilling

•Manchester Police Department: Woody Higgs

•Hampstead Police Department: Geoffrey Wolf