NJ Law Enforcement Torch Run back in action Friday
It might have flown under the radar compared to previous years, but even in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey did happen in 2020, keeping alive a streak that dates back to 1984.
While in-person Special Olympics competition is returning this year, it will not be headquartered at The College of New Jersey, meaning there will be no opening ceremony Friday night.
In turn, that means the run is also not going to culminate at TCNJ, but rather will be a point-to-point event connecting its dozens of different routes.
Still, Chief Robert Belfiore, LETR director and retired Deputy Chief of the Port Authority of NY/NJ, expects the Torch Run to play its part in the nearly $4 million raised annually by New Jersey law enforcement for the Special Olympics.
"We raise enough money so every athlete can participate free of charge," Belfiore said. “No family member has to put any money into what our athletes do."
Not every state can say that, according to Belfiore.
And to illustrate that point, Belfiore said New Jersey was the only state to proceed with its Torch Run at any point last year.
Things are almost back to normal for 2021, with the various routes covering 750 miles in total and involving more than 3,000 officers.
But organizers and participants will be missing that final moment of celebration, surrounded by the athletes and thousands of spectators.
"It stops and it's over. There's no coming down to the college, there's no opening ceremonies, there's no police officers high-fiving athletes. That's all out this year,” Belfiore said.