By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(June 7, 2018) A brigade of volunteers and police officers on foot, on horseback, in cars and buses, even some on motorcycles, made their way through Ocean City and Berlin on Monday during the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Relay for Special Olympics Maryland.
The group of perhaps several hundred started at The Grand Hotel on 21st Street in Ocean City and also stopped along the Boardwalk, at the Ocean City Fire Department Station 5 in West Ocean City and Ocean City Elementary School, as well as in Berlin at Worcester Preparatory School, Buckingham Elementary School, downtown, and the Berlin Fire Company station on Main Street.
At Buckingham Elementary, participants were welcomed by what seemed to be the school’s the entire student and teacher population, as they lined up outside on a sunny spring day to watch the spectacle and to provide a warm welcome.
Leading up to the event, participants sold commemorative T-shirts to raise money for Special Olympics Maryland. Participation in the run itself was $15 per runner, or for the same price you could simply get the shirt and support the cause.
The local Torch Run is part of a larger statewide effort, split between eastern, western, central and southern Maryland, and each year ending in Towson.
Ocean City Police Sgt. Dennis G. Eade, who organized the local leg, said the event has raised more than $35 million for Special Olympics Maryland in a little over three decades.
“The sale of these T-shirts is what raises all the funds for us,” Eade said Monday during the stop at Buckingham. “When we actually do the Torch Run itself … and we get out and get to see everybody and run the roads, it’s about inclusion and awareness, and opening everybody’s eyes to what it is exactly Special Olympics offers our folks with intellectual disabilities.”
Eade has been involved in the Torch Run for two decades. Way back in the day, he said, the event was essentially one long run from Ocean City to Salisbury.
“We realized along the way that we were passing a lot of cornfields and chicken fields,” he said. “We thought, if it’s about awareness, then we need to start getting into these communities and starting reaching out to schools and doing things like this, so that we can increase that awareness.”
Hence the redrawn route that now includes three schools, two fire departments, the Ocean City Boardwalk, and a busy downtown-shopping district.
“We were wasting a lot of our energy and time running for nobody between here and Salisbury. We now make little stops like this, which means the world to us,” he said. “This is what it’s all about, when you cut right down to it – the interaction and awareness.
“A lot of people today will be asking what all this is about, and that’s how we raise awareness for Special Olympics Maryland,” Eade continued. “And I just love doing it.”
For more information about Special Olympics Maryland, visit www.somd.org.