On Thursday, June 5 local Milfordians helped carry the torch that began the 2014 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 6 through Saturday, June 7. 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.
“The first year we raised $2,000 and we thought that was great, it was all we knew how to do. This year we expect to raise over $550,000 for the Special Olympics program,” stated Miller. “It means so much to the Special Olympics program because funding is key. The more money they have the more athletes they can serve, the better equipment they can get.”
Serving the Special Olympics in the torch run for all 28 years it has been held, Miller began the run as a young Lieutenant and continued his service to the event even after he retired as a Captain with the Delaware State Police in 1994. Working as the Chief Investigator for the Delaware Attorney General Office, which he retired from last year, he continues to facilitate the run and feels that the Special Olympics of Delaware and Delaware law enforcement agencies have a special bond.
“It is a great partnership for the Special Olympics Delaware Program,” said Miller. “For us we call it the magic formula, no matter how much we put into it the more we get out of it. It makes us feel good about ourselves, our community and we feel good that our community is working with us to help the Special Olympic Delaware.”
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 makes 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.”
The Opening Ceremony took place last Friday at the Bob Carpenter Center featuring the Voice of the Blue Hens, Scott Klatzkin, serving as emcee, and several special guests. Among the highlights of the ceremony was the lighting of the cauldron by 2013 Outstanding Athlete, Elizabeth Nolan of Wilmington, and Torch-Runner of the Year, Sergeant Jason Stevenson of the Delaware State Police. The Olympic games took place on June 6 and 7 and featured over 750 athletes competing in six sports: aquatics, bocce, powerlifting, softball, tennis, and track and field.
“The annual Summer Games is the highlight of the year for everyone involved,” said Special Olympics Delaware executive director Ann Grunert. “We take great pride in providing our athletes with a first-class event at which they can display their many athletic talents not only to family and friends, but their fellow Delawareans from the community.”