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Torch Run participants can't outrun rain

Law enforcement agencies stage event to raise money for Special Olympics

June 09, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Special Olympian Dolly Clay said Wednesday's cold and rainy weather took some of the fun out of the 25th annual Maryland Torch Run.

The statewide event is staged by law enforcement agencies to raise money for the Special Olympics of Maryland. Runners began locally at 7:30 a.m. in Hancock and headed east on U.S. 40 until they finished around 3 p.m. at the Frederick County line.

Clay and many of the participants didn't run the entire route. They ran a few blocks as the procession came through Hagerstown, stopping at the Square to talk to each other about participating in the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games this weekend in Towson, Md.

"Our motto is 'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,'" said Clay 42. "That's what we think about when we're in the Games."

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Former Hagerstown Police Sgt. John Ryder was the coordinator of the Torch Run in Washington County.

"I'm glad to do it for these kids," he said.

The runners on Wednesday included Special Olympians and representatives from the Hagerstown Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police, Ryder said. Those who didn't start in Hancock were picked up along the way. They were invited to run for as long as they were able. Police cruisers provided an escort along the route.

Ryder said Torch Run organizers collect money from sponsors over the course of the year.

The Maryland Torch Run raised $50,000 when it started in 1986, according to a press release from the Special Olympics of Maryland. Proceeds were $3.7 million last year.

Hagerstown resident Ryan Bloom, 26, said he joined the rest of the runners in front of the Washington County Courthouse on West Washington Street and ran a few blocks before calling it quits.

Bloom said he is looking forward to competing at the Games this weekend in Towson, where he expects to put on a good showing in the shot-put, 200-meter dash, 4-by-100 relay and the running-long jump.

"I like to compete," he said. "It gives me something to do."

Candi Blessing, 24, of Smithsburg, said she has participated in the Special Olympics for 16 years.

"All my friends do it and it's fun," she said.

The Special Olympics Summer Games will be held Friday through Sunday on the Towson University Campus. About 1,200 athletes are expected to participate in aquatics, athletics, bocce, equestrian, cheerleading and softball.

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