Off To The Races

Local law enforcement, students and volunteers came together Wednesday to commemorate the passage of the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” through Jamestown.

The torch run, which began at approximately 9 a.m., had roughly 20 law enforcement officers joining Special Olympics athletes in a 2.2-mile route from Jamestown City Hall to Thomas Jefferson Middle School’s Strider Field.

Members of the Jamestown Police Department, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police participated.

“It’s a terrific cause,” said Captain Robert F. Samuelson, division commander of the JPD. “Any time that law enforcement gets a chance to do something like this, we take it and enjoy doing it.”

Upon arriving at Strider Field, the athletes were met with a wide variety of games and activities, from 50-meter races, the long jump and a softball throwing contest.

Bob Goold, a volunteer and coordinator for the event, was noticeably happy with the day’s turnout, indicating that it gives kids an opportunity to compete and interact with other athletes from around the county.

“The purpose of this day is to give the kids that are in special education a chance to participate in an Olympic-type atmosphere,” Goold said. “Most of these kids don’t have the opportunity to play soccer or Little League for whatever reason … This gives them a day to shine.”

Events were predominantly facilitated by students and teachers from local area schools.

“These kids are just phenomenal,” said Elizabeth Dallas, a student volunteer from Falconer Central School. “I love helping people … it’s my favorite thing to do.”

Dallas, a senior, plans to attend college and eventually become a special education teacher.

“This event shows what’s right with our youth,” Goold said. “They come away with a better appreciation of what they have when they see these kids trying their hardest to compete. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

According to Erica Raepple, associate director of development for Special Olympics New York, the “Flame of Hope” has traveled all over New York state, raising funds and awareness.

On June 6, it will make its way to the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena where the 2014 Summer Games will be held.