On Thursday, June 9 local Milfordians helped carry the torch that began the 2016 Special Olympics Delaware summer games. At 10am the symbolic torch traveled through Milford and was passed onto its final destination, the University of Delaware where the games were held Friday, June 10 through Saturday, June 11. The torch traveled 160-mile beginning Wednesday night in Rehoboth Beach and reached its destination at the athletic complex during the Athlete and Family Barbecue.
Participating in the torch run were over 500 law enforcement officers who created a police escort across the state over the three-day journey. Every law enforcement agency in the state of Delaware was represented during the event. Torch Run State Director John Miller was present at the torch exchange at the Lakeview Avenue and Route 113 intersection in Milford. Serving in several different leadership roles for the torch run over the years as part of the Delaware State Police, Miller is proud to see the growth of the program.
Earlier this year, Delaware State Trooper Senior Corporal Danielle Martin was named the Winnie Spence Torch Runner of the Year for 2016. She stated in a press release in April that her most memorable Torch Run and Special Olympics memories included “Running into the parking lot of the Bob Carpenter Center before the Summer Games Opening Ceremony and seeing the athletes and their families on the sides of the parking lot. They were cheering us on with such enthusiasm, reaching their hands out for high-fives. I felt so humbled because I felt like we should be the ones cheering for them. This was so awe inspiring, brought tears to my eyes, and really reminded me of the need to continue to stay involved.”
Like many officers, her involvement with the Torch Run began with simply running in the Torch Run in 2005. Also, that same year, Martin was approached by a fellow shift-mate and asked to assist with the Ad Solicitation Campaign for the Summer Games Program and Year in Review (known then as the Yearbook), and began fundraising for same in the 2004-2005 season. In 2006, she attended her first Regional Conference where she learned more about the Torch Run Movement and how to get more involved. Martin began attending local competitions and quickly became engaged in the enthusiasm of the athletes when they received their well-deserved medals.
As the Delaware Law Enforcement for Special Olympics “Torch Runner of the Year” for 2016, Corporal Danielle Martin had the distinct honor and privilege of delivering the Flame of Hope to the Special Olympics Delaware Athlete of the Year, Chris Truono, at the Opening Ceremonies on behalf of the entire Delaware Law Enforcement community.
Special Olympics Delaware provides a year-round program of quality sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and cognitive delays. According to the organization, over 4,000 volunteers make the program possible for the more than 3,500 athletes who compete in Special Olympics Delaware. Special Olympics Delaware aims to “builds sports skills, confidence, strength, motivation and self-esteem, not just for the athletes, but for everyone involved.”
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