WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — With his facemask off, you could see the big smile on Waterbury police officer Frank Lee’s face.
“I hope that they see Waterbury stepped up their game and we’re in it for the long haul,” he said.
Officer Lee is proud that the Waterbury community helped his fellow officers raise $15,000 for the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, joining the effort across the state to raise funds to help adults and kids with special needs be able to participate in athletic programs and the upcoming statewide Special Olympics games at Fairfield University. It meant on Wednesday, members of law enforcement had to fulfil their promise to run 7 miles through the city, carrying the Special Olympics torch, which will eventually end up at the opening ceremonies in Fairfield Friday night. Just before 10:30am, they met up with officers from Naugatuck Police who handed off the Special Olympics torch to them. Then, the Waterbury officers ran to the Wolcott line to give the torch to officers from that department.
The entire effort covering more than 500 miles across Connecticut. News 8 asking Special Olympics officials just how important this form of serving and protecting is.
“The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the biggest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut,” said Jeffrey Veneziano, Director of Special Events. “We wouldn’t be able to put on any of the programs that we do throughout the year. Last year they raised — even during a pandemic — over $400,000 dollars for us. When we’re not in a pandemic year they raise almost a million dollars a year.”
Waterbury Police have been participating in this for nearly 20 years. They raised their funds by soliciting various businesses, asking people they know for donations, and selling t-shirts.
The mother of one Special Olympian telling NEWS 8 how appreciative she is.
“What they’re doing is really, really great,” said Adele Caritey. “I’m proud of them.”