Apparent miscommunication between the 2014 Games and the Princeton mayor and police chief caused a hour-long delay at the 7:20 a.m. occasion while the runners waited for Mayor Liz Lempert and Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter, both of whom later said they were unaware they were encouraged.
In the end, the members of Special Olympics took it in stride.
“Everything about Special Olympics is happy,” said Assistant Director of Law Enforcement Sponsorship David Reed. “The parents are happy, the children are happy and the people watching are joyful.”
Sportsman Antonio Bowe of Milford, Delaware, summed up the link among those involved in Special Olympics when he said, “the parents are like a family.”
“Special Olympics has a lot to offer, and it is for everybody,” he said.
Throughout his speech, Mr. Bowe’s pals enthusiastically cheered him on, clapping and nodding in agreement.
Mr. Bowe said he joined Special Olympics 24 years ago and talked about his passion for running, describing it as his “life sport.”
He said he was honored to be a part of the LETR and get the opportunity to run with law enforcement officers in the U.S.A. Special Olympics kickoff.
Then, Detective Hilary Scott of Portland, Oregon, told of how she became involved in Special Olympics seven years ago after she was injured within an accident.
She wanted compete in a marathon, she said, which made her a great candidate for a torch run and to begin running again.
“I had all the right gear. I’d expensive shoes, compression socks, the right play list on my iPod,” she said. Surprisingly that day, I met a sportsman named Jen who forever altered my life.”
Tearing up, Detective Scott recounted how she was inspired by Jen’s love of running and talked about the indescribable feeling of putting a grin on the athletes’ faces.
“I didn’t want an iPod, I didn’t need a play list anymore. I simply ran with (Jen) in my heart,” she said. “The athletes have taught us so much more than we can teach them.”
Two Princeton police officers, Jorge Narvaez and Tom Lagomarsino, stood in for Chief Sutter and accepted gifts from Mr. Bowe and Detective Scott.
As the service was ending, 6-year-old Julia Yi approached the sportsmen and asked to have her photograph taken with them.
Julia said she learned about the Special Olympics in her school, Sharon Elementary in Robbinsville, and wanted to see the Torch Run.
“We made posters to welcome people for the Olympics,” Julia said.
So, Julia as well as the rest of her family, dad Roland, mother Stacey and sisters Eleanor and Catherine, woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to Saturday’s event.
“The Family did not need to miss it,” said Ms. Yi.