MASSENA - Robert C. Cooter, a talented veteran Special Olympian from Massena, enjoys the annual Torch Run from Ogdensburg to Massena each year because it gives him the chance to meet and better know area law enforcement officers.
Aside from their duties to protect the public, Mr. Cooter appreciates that many area law enforcement officers take the time and make effort to support athletic programs for people with disabilities.
More than 50 area law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies - ranging from corrections officers at the Ogdensburg and Riverview facilities and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to state troopers, sheriffs deputies and officers from the Ogdensburg and Potsdam police departments - took part in the Torch Run, an annual 36-mile race that raises funds for Special Olympics New York, according to Erin T. McCartan, development specialist for Special Olympics New York.
Ms. McCarton said many participants in Special Olympics New York idolize law enforcement personnel, which makes their presence at the games more meaningful to the athletes. Its nice at the games with law enforcement handing out the awards, and they look up to the law enforcement like theyre heroes, Ms. McCarton said.
The Torch Run was broken up into legs so that at least one person was running for all of the 36 miles, and some runners, such as Mr. Cooter, ran for stretches of several miles throughout various points in the race. Participants describe the race as casual, fun and non-competitive, with many residents cheering the runners on as they ran past.
The race ended at the Massena Town Hall, where runners were greeted Mayor James F. Hidy.
We have tremendous support from the community, said Timothy R. Welpe, a Torch Run volunteer and a former games coordinator for Area 27 of Special Olympics New York.
Asked why he continues to volunteer after working the Special Olympics for 27 years, Mr. Welpe said, Its a lot of fun. You make great connections, and I enjoyed running today.
In addition, the race helps encourage many people with disabilities to get active, exercise and lead healthy lifestyles.
For many, like Mr. Cooter, the race is chance to see the pay-off of months of training. I love these runs. I like working with the staff, Mr. Cooter said.
Organizers estimate this years Torch Run pulled in roughly $4,000 for Special Olympics New York. That funding came from law enforcement officers who purchased Torch Run T-shirts and from the local sponsors Pepsi Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers, Inc., Phillips Diner, AJs Septic, Jrecks Subs, Busy Corner Cafe & Tanning, Gary and Alleens Hairstyling, Wayside Tavern, Oak & More and Garys Auto, DeGrasse.
Participants also wanted to extend a thanks to Massenas Elks Lodge for providing a post-run lunch of pizza and wings.