Police, Special Olympians carry torch through Monroe Co. in NY Torch Run

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Some ran, some biked, and some drove their way to the finish line during Friday’s Law Enforcement Torch Run in Monroe County.

The run serves as both a fundraiser and a sign that Special Olympics New York is right around the corner. Police from around Monroe County came out to participate in this leg of the statewide run, helping to carry the Flame of Hope around New York. Joining them were Special Olympics athletes such as Zi Chen and Peter Dailey.

“The Special Olympics means a lot to me because of all the friendships and all of the teamwork that everybody puts in together when we compete,” Dailey said.

He and Chen ran the course alongside officers, other Olympians, and local citizens as they made their way through the Spencerport School District. There, they were met with handmade signs and a whole lot of cheers from kids of all ages.

Kenny Moriarity has a medal from the 50-yard dash and goes to the Special Olympics every year, but this was his first time helping to carry the torch.

“It’s an honor to run and ride my bike with all these torch runners,” he said.

“I definitely ran so much today,” Special Olympian Jacob Babcock said. “I can’t explain how much I love Special Olympics. It’s been — they mean so much to me.”

Babcock stepped back and slung an arm around Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Favata.

“And my friend over here, Mike, he’s my boy.”

Favata sits on the board of the Law Enforcement Torch Runners and also coaches Babcock’s basketball team. He highlighted how important helping out with the Special Olympics is to him and other officers.

“We’re the guardians of the flame for all the Special Olympics athletes — I mean really the best athletes in the world.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Runners have been working across the state to support the Special Olympics for the past three decades. Their events — which also include annual polar plunges — raise money and awareness, but they also create a partnership that many athletes said they’re happy to have.

“It means a lot to me to see them all come out and support us and spend their day helping us raise all the money to help — that lets us be able to go compete for free,” Dailey said. “Because it’s really nice to be able to not have to pay to travel anywhere to compete.”

Athletes and coaches from around the state will travel to Ithaca next weekend for the New York Summer Special Olympics.