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Ogdensburg kicks off Special Olympics with torch run

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State police, Ogdensburg officials and over 50 athletes gathered Friday for the 13th Annual Special Olympic Law Enforcement Torch Run opening ceremonies outside City Hall.

Sponosored by state police, the torch run has symbolized the start of the Special Olympics Games in the north country since 2000.

Law enforcement officials play a crucial role in the run, as they guide the torch from City Hall in Ogdensburg to the Town Hall in Massena.

“It’s important to the athletes that they feel supported by local law enforcement. They take pride in running alongside them,” said North Country-Area Special Olympics Coordinator Tammy Johnson.

Directed by Jennifer Cavanaugh, the Ogdensburg Free Academy Jazz Rock Ensemble led the public in a rendition of the National Anthem and America the Beautiful.

Mayor William D. Nelson congratulated and wished athletes a safe journey. As the athletes made their way down Ford Street, state police Captain Michael Girard signaled the start of the escort.

“These people give their time and energies to fundraise and send the Olympians to the Special Olympics,” said Mr. Nelson. “It’s wonderful that members of the law enforcement have committed themselves to this endeavor.”

The torch run included 12, two-mile legs, two, four-mile legs and one three-mile stretch before the torch reached Mayor James F. Hidy at the Massena Town Hall.

Following the ceremonies, athletes and runners were treated to a luncheon donated by the Elks Lodge, Massena.

The Special Olympics will be held today at SUNY Potsdam. Opening ceremonies will begin at 9:45 a.m. in the Maxcy Hall Field House, with competitions starting immediately afterwards.

Over 175 athletes are expected to participate in track, field and basketball events.

For more information about today’s games, contact Elizabeth M. Demo, volunteer coordinator, at 244-8758.

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