Long Pond School takes part in Torch Run
35th annual event for Special Olympics


Long Pond School students (L-R) Dominic Celi, Rylie Corby, Matthew Miranda, Emma Eigner, Kayla Gunderman, Beth Debski, Gianna Celi, Emma Maslowski, Adam Kesselman, and Frank Boffa with ATPD Patrolman Jason Mills' cruiser at the Municipal Building on Friday morning June 8, 2018. The students gathered to take part in the NJ Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Photos by Mandy Coriston

By Mandy Coriston
Andover — Friday morning, June 8, brought perfect weather for a morning run as a group of middle-schoolers from the Long Pond School along with their principal, Bryan Fleming, joined police officers from Andover and Newton on the 35th Annual New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics as it made its way through the township.
Shortly after 7:30 a.m., Fleming and his students went from the municipal building at the corner of Newton-Sparta and Lake Iliff Rds. to the Florence M. Burd Elementary School. They were accompanied by police runners, who had begun their leg of the run at the historic Sussex County Courthouse at the square in Newton and were continuing on to Sparta, where they would pass the torch to officers waiting there. An Andover DPW truck helped block the busy intersection as the runners headed out of the municipal building parking lot, and Andover Township Police Chief Eric Danielson and Patrolman Jason Mills provided an escort for the runners as they jogged the nearly two-mile stretch of road.
Eighth-grader Adam Kesselman, a member of the LPS track team, led the group in a series of stretches as they waited for the runners coming from Newton to arrive.
“It’s really good early morning exercise, and it’s for a good cause, so it’s killing two birds with one stone,” Kesselman said.
Principal Fleming said the students who participated raised donations and registered with the Torch Run to support Special Olympics in New Jersey.
Shari Miranda, mother of fifth-grader Matthew Miranda said, “It’s fun for him to get to participate in a community event like this.”
Also running Friday morning was eighth-grader Beth Debski, whose uncle Neil Johnson is the President Emeritus of the Special Olympics in New York.
“She’s a giver. She’s always the first in line to give back,” said Kerri Debski, Beth's mother.
Kesselman, Miranda, and Debski were joined by their schoolmates Frank Boffa, Emma Maslowski, Gianna Celi, Dominic Celi, Rylie Corby, Emma Eigner, and Kayla Gunderman.
Upon reaching the elementary school, the students were greeted by their parents with a post-run treat of bagels and plenty of cold water. The runners and their principal needed to get to school, but the torch continued to make its way throughout the state, to eventually light the cauldron Friday night at the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s NJ Special Olympics Summer Games, held at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.
The New Jersey Law Enforcement Run for Special Olympics was founded in 1984, the brainchild of Port Authority Police Officer Steven Vitale, who encouraged his fellow law enforcement colleagues to participate in supporting the Special Olympics. Since then, the run has raised an average of $3 million a year, which goes toward funding specialized adaptive sports equipment, athlete registration costs, and medals for Special Olympians. For more information on the annual event, visit <URL destination="http://www.njtorchrun.org. ">www.njtorchrun.org.