Area police departments participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run of Connecticut Thursday, a three-day statewide run in which state law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes carried the Flame of Hope, which symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the globe.
Over 1,000 law enforcement officers are participating.
The run will end with the lighting of the cauldron at the Summer Sports Series Opening Ceremonies at Fairfield University on Friday.
Over a dozen Bristol police officers and youth cadets dashed up Route 69 and toward the Farmington and Bristol border Thursday, to hand off a torch to runners as part of the run.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest grassroots fundraiser for the Special Olympics with over 100 police agencies joining across the state.
“We’re privileged to be partnered with the Special Olympics. It’s a great, great cause,” Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said.
Bristol police picked up the torch coming through Wolcott and then handed it off to the Farmington Police Department at the town line. Officers ran through the center of town, passed Bristol City Hall, and headed north to Route 6. Once they reached the border, Farmington police then carried the torch to West Hartford.
“We pass the torch off to different people running in the group,” said Gould.
As part of further charitable efforts, Bristol police also held a Tip-a-Cop event with help from staff at Uncle Sam’s Restaurant, and will be rappelling down walls at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville in September. The Tip-a-Cop event raised around $3,000 over Memorial Day weekend, officers said.
Officers Katie Verilo and Zack Levine helped organize the Bristol torch running leg.
“We start at the beginning of the year and go to different businesses and each business we reach out to can do a donation of a minimum of $100 to adopt a mile that gets them a sign along our seven-mile stretch of the run,” Verilo said. “You get more signs for donating more.”
Funds are still being counted but Levine said officers were confident between $5,000 and $10,000 would come out of the event.
“We’ve been doing this now for three years,” Verilo said of the run. “We’ll also be doing a Penguin Plunge this year. We get a lot of support to do all of this and we’re thankful for it.”
The New Britain Police Department also carried the “Flame of Hope” in support of the Special Olympics of Connecticut Thursday.
New Britain Police Chief Christopher Chute said he has been involved with the Special Olympics of Connecticut for over 20 years.
“The New Britain Police Department has a great relationship with the Special Olympics of Connecticut, especially the Law Enforcement Torch Run,” Chute said. “This is just another event throughout the year that we highly support, are highly engaged in and are proud to be a part of.”
New Britain police received the torch from the Berlin Police Department and handed it off to the Newington Police Department.
According to Senior Director of the Special Olympics of Connecticut Lisa Carlone, the goal of this run in particular was to raise awareness, but the Law Enforcement Torch Run encompasses many other events. In total, the fundraiser has raised almost $900 million for Special Olympics worldwide since its inception.