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Torch bearers light the way to Special Olympics games

June 03, 2004|by HEATHER C. SMATHERS

heathers@herald-mail.com

For the third straight year, Alan C. Artz II carried the Special Olympics torch through Hagerstown Wednesday.

Artz' stepmother, Diane Artz, said she contacted event coordinator John Ryder three years ago to see if her autistic stepson could participate in the event in some way.

Ryder was receptive to the idea, she said, and Alan, 18, has carried the torch since then.

"He calls it the pizza run, because after, we always go out for pizza," she said.

A group of law enforcement officers carried the torch across Washington County. Officers and friends received the torch in Hancock at 7 a.m. and made their way to Hagerstown, where Artz took the torch and ran with it into Public Square, said event coordinator John Ryder, a retired sergeant with the Hagerstown Police Department.

After passing through Hagerstown, the group ran or biked through the county and passed the torch to Frederick County officials at the county line, he said.

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Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner hailed the torch run as "another great event in downtown Hagerstown."

The torch will be used to light the flame at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Summer Games on Friday at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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