Sheriff’s Deputies and Citizens Run to Benefit Maryland Special Olympics

(Bel Air, Md. – June 1, 2006) — Harford County Sheriff’s Deputies along with civilians from throughout the county will once again carry the “Flame of Hope” on an trek through Harford County to benefit Maryland Special Olympics. Runners will begin the nearly 18 mile run at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 in Havre de Grace and continue west on Route 40 meeting up with Baltimore County Police at the county line near Joppatowne.

Since 1981, law enforcement officers nationwide, including deputies and correctional officers from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Aberdeen Police, Bel Air Police, Havre de Grace Police and the Aberdeen Proving Ground, have participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Police officers 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.

Commenting on this special event, Corporal Ginny Courtney, a correctional officer with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and coordinator of the Torch Run said, “This is a very special day for a very special cause. Words cannot describe how law enforcement officers and civilians alike feel about the Maryland Special Olympics.”

The first Torch Run was held in 1981 in Wichita, Kansas when Chief Richard LeMunyon and several officers saw an urgent need to raise funds and increase awareness for Special Olympics. Law enforcement agencies in Maryland joined the Torch Run in 1986 when 500 police officers raised $5,000 for Special Olympics. Today the Torch Run has grown into the most important fund raising effort of Special Olympics Maryland.

During the early 1960’s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with mental retardation at her home in Rockville, Maryland. What evolved from her commitment to children with special needs was the creation of the Special Olympics, an international sports organization for people with mental retardation or closely related developmental disabilities.

In 1968, the first International Special Olympics Games were held at Soldier’s Field in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1968, millions of children and adults with mental retardation have participated in Special Olympics.

Persons interested in registering to run in the Harford County Torch Run for Special Olympics should contact the Office of Media and Public Relations for the Sheriff’s Office at 410-836-5403. Runners of all ages are welcome to participate.