Local law enforcers took steps to support Special Olympics on Thursday … lots of steps … however many steps it takes to travel on foot from Powers Park in Lyndonville to Maplefields in St. Johnsbury.
It was the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. A torch (not lit for safety reasons) and an American flag were carried the nearly 10-mile route under a clear sky in temperatures toasty enough to draw sweat from the roughly 22 participants. About a dozen people trekked the route from start to finish, said local event coordinator Trooper Matt Tarricone of the Vermont State Police.
According to information made available by Special Olympics of Vermont, “the Torch Run is an actual running event in which officers and athletes run the Flame of Hope™ to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions.” Trooper Tarricone got the torch from state police in the Derby barracks who had an Orleans County portion of the torch relay. With the Lyndonville-to-St. Johnsbury portion complete, he will deliver the torch to Hardwick Police.
States information from Special Olympics of Vermont, “The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run is the flagship fundraising and awareness event of the year. Torches begin in each corner of the state and are carried, mile by mile, by law enforcement and public service professionals toward Burlington, Vermont. Once in the Burlington area, participants join together for the LETR Final Leg, where torches are carried to University of Vermont for Special Olympics Vermont Summer Games opening ceremonies.”
The games begin Friday. The torch will arrive at the games on Saturday.
Trooper Tarricone has been the coordinator for the local leg of the torch relay for six years. His job includes coordinating involvement of area public safety agencies. Taking part Thursday were multiple people from Vermont State Police, including local barracks commander Lt. Matt Amadon. Lyndonville Police and St. Johnsbury Police joined the run, and Lyndonville Fire Department supported the run by adding one of its engines to a convoy of public safety vehicles adding exposure to the event.
Local Special Olympians Elisha Buss, of Lyndonville, and Chelsea Waldner, of St. Johnsbury Center, began the run, leading the pack and carrying the torch and American flag.
Lauren Girouard, 15, of Concord, took part in her first torch run, joining her father VSP Det. Denis Girouard.
“I think it’s an important cause,” she said as her reason for running.
Joining the group when it reached Price Chopper in St. Johnsbury Center were members of State’s Attorney Lisa Warren’s office, including Warren herself. They finished the route with the torch bearers.
Trooper Tarricone said supporters offered car horn blasts and shouts of encouragement all along the route. Near the finish line, the runners were met by scores of St. Johnsbury School students standing along the torch run route outside their school waving and cheering.
“This event is very important to me because I see how much enjoyment the athletes get from participating and I feel the Special Olympics is a great opportunity for athletes to show their talents,” said Tarricone.