Law enforcement officers carry Special Olympics Torch through So - NBC40.net

Law enforcement officers carry Special Olympics Torch through South Jersey

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ATLANTIC CITY -

As athletes from across the country prepare for the 2014 Special Olympics this coming weekend, the torch is on its way to the games.

Today, local law enforcement officials and Special Olympians carried the torch through South Jersey.

For 32 years, law enforcement agencies around the world have been running alongside Special Olympians to guard their Olympic torch.

Robert Belifore is the retired Chief of the Port Authority and said, "We're trying to present awareness that the Special Olympic Summer Games are a week away, and raise money for the athletes. We are guardians of the flame."

Today, the Law Enforcement Torch Run made its way through South Jersey.

Michael Smith is a police captain from Charlotte, North Carolina who is participating in the run. Smith said, "Law enforcement joins with Special Olympics around the world. 120,000 law enforcement officers around the world raise money for Special Olympics. In 2013, we raised $46 million dollars to allow Special Olympics to continue because it's such an integral part of their lives."

Torch bearers are carrying the "Special Olympics Flame of Hope" on three simultaneous routes throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania as part of the prestigious "Final Leg Team."

On Thursday, the "Jersey Shore Final Leg Team" was making stops throughout our area. Belifore told NBC40, "Up to seaside and then along the Jersey Shore and we'll wind up in East Brunswick."

Members of the Atlantic City Police Department raised money for the athletes and welcomed the Olympians into the resort town as they made their way north.

Sergeant Monica McMenamin of the ACPD said, "Amongst some of the officers here today, they ran last week. They ran from the Taj Mahal out to Absecon. It's almost an 8-mile run so it's a nice run and it's good support."

All of the local law enforcement officers, and the Special Olympians, say they're really looking forward to the opening ceremonies - which will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark this Sunday.

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