Sheriff’s Deputies Run to Benefit Maryland Special Olympics

(Harford County, MD – May 29, 2007) — Harford County Sheriff’s deputies will once again carry the “Flame of Hope” on a seventeen mile journey through Harford County to benefit Maryland Special Olympics. On June 5, 2007, deputies will begin their leg of the run in Havre de Grace. Officers will carry the “Flame of Hope” ceremonial torch through Havre de Grace, Aberdeen, Edgewood, and Joppa ending at the Baltimore County/Harford County line.

Since 1981, law enforcement agencies nationwide, including the Harford County Sheriffs Office, 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 from the Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Aberdeen, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace Police Departments, receive the torch from Cecil County law enforcement officers, and then run a 17 mile course through Harford County, eventually passing the torch to police in Baltimore County. This event is well received by police officers and between 25 and 30 officers run the 17-mile leg every year.

Sergeant Ginny Courtney, Coordinator for the event, commented, “Every officer will tell you it is a great feeling to do something for Maryland’s Special Olympians. But the greatest feeling deputies will tell you is when they witness the Olympics and have the opportunity to present awards to the athletes.” She added, “This same scenario is repeated simultaneously in almost every state across the nation.”

In 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 and/or closely related developmental disabilities. Throughout Maryland, more than 7,000 athletes, ages 8 and above, participates in Special Olympic programs.