Officers Run to Raise Funds for Special Olympics New Jersey

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Local police departments joined agencies from all over the Garden State Friday morning, June 9th, for the 34th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey. In 2016, their fundraising efforts raised $3.7 million for the organization.

Prior to the Run, shoestrings were being laced up and people were getting in some final stretches at the Pennsauken Police Department before hitting the road for a good cause.

“The Annual Torch Run for the Special Olympics [has] different segments and legs," says Detective Matthew Henkel, of the Pennsauken Police Department, and president of FOP Lodge 3. "Our leg has been going on for 14 years."

Some local law enforcement agencies met up at the Pennsauken Police Department, which is one of the 26 starting points for the annual run across the state.

“We go from here to Burlington, [and] stop along the way in multiple towns and police departments,” says Henkel.

By Friday afternoon, the runners from the Pennsauken leg of the run covered 45 miles throughout Camden and Burlington counties, in an effort to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics New Jersey.

It’s very well received. It’s a way for us to give back in a positive way.

“This is a great charity," says Henkel. "Like I said, we’ve been doing this for a while. It’s very well received. It’s a way for us to give back [in] a positive way. These athletes are incredible people themselves.” 

After three miles, the torch was passed to the Cherry Hill Police Department. More runners then joined the starting group and started on their way to Burlington County.

By the end of the day, the 3,000 runners who participated in the event will have covered 300 towns totaling more than 750 miles on foot.

"I run to support Special Olympics," says Jill Giannini of the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department. "I usually run 16 to 20 miles a year on this route. I try to do my part.” 

“To be here for the kids, for the Special Olympics, is an honor and a privilege for me,” says Eric Salmestrelli, also of the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department.

The 34th annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey will finish off later tonight in Ewing. The torch will arrive just in time to light the cauldron at the Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games Opening Ceremony.

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