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PHOTOS: Law Enforcement Torch Run Through Bergen, Passaic Draws Cheers

Youngsters headed the pack in Hasbrouck Heights.
Youngsters headed the pack in Hasbrouck Heights. Photo Credit: COURTESY: HHPD
Crowds cheer on Lyndhurst's finest.
Crowds cheer on Lyndhurst's finest. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Lyndhurst PD
At Lincoln Elementary School in Ridgefield Park.
At Lincoln Elementary School in Ridgefield Park. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Alison Butler
Emerson's youngsters set a strong clip.
Emerson's youngsters set a strong clip. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Karen Sterinsky
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office's team.
The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office's team. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Maura McCabe
Palisades Park police, who raised $2,500, with students from the Lindbergh Elementary School.
Palisades Park police, who raised $2,500, with students from the Lindbergh Elementary School. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Charles Stark
Allendale's finest.
Allendale's finest. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Ellen Cooper Hillman
Edgewater's finest are joined by some of the borough's youngest.
Edgewater's finest are joined by some of the borough's youngest. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Christina Rae
Norwood youngsters power up.
Norwood youngsters power up. Photo Credit: COURTESY: CC Vaghasia
Norwood kids wait to join in.
Norwood kids wait to join in. Photo Credit: COURTESY: CC Vaghasia
Norwood youngsters immediately started setting a pace.
Norwood youngsters immediately started setting a pace. Photo Credit: COURTESY: CC Vaghasia
(FROM LEFT): Fair Lawn Police Lt. Eric Leitman, Councilwoman Lisa Swain, Detective Anthony Lugo & Erin King.
(FROM LEFT): Fair Lawn Police Lt. Eric Leitman, Councilwoman Lisa Swain, Detective Anthony Lugo & Erin King. Photo Credit: COURTESY: FLPD
Little Ferry Police Officer Adam Warne ran "home" from Northvale.
Little Ferry Police Officer Adam Warne ran "home" from Northvale. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Adam Warne
Greetings from Hillsdale.
Greetings from Hillsdale. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Hillsdale PD
Garfield's finest and School No. 7 students.
Garfield's finest and School No. 7 students. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Garfield PD Capt. Martin Gray
Englewood torch runners detoured past the Dr. John Grieco Elementary School, where the 2nd Annual Cops and Kids Summer Kick Off was being held.
Englewood torch runners detoured past the Dr. John Grieco Elementary School, where the 2nd Annual Cops and Kids Summer Kick Off was being held. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Englewood PD
Westwood's finest.
Westwood's finest. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Westwood PD
In Glen Rock
In Glen Rock Photo Credit: COURTESY: Michael Torpey
Youngsters from Lincoln Elementary School, Ridgefield Park
Youngsters from Lincoln Elementary School, Ridgefield Park Photo Credit: COURTESY: Alison Butler

Among thousands of participants in the 34th Annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run early Friday were a special group of youngsters from Ridgefield Park.

"The children had a great time -- and so did everyone," Alison Butler, a teacher's assistant at Lincoln Elementary School, told Daily Voice.

The 21 young participants -- joined by a dozen adults -- range from first to 6th grade, said Butler, who raised $1,300 for the cause.

They ran alongside Bogota police and other community members on their local leg of the run, which made its way through North Jersey on a sun-splashed morning.

"There were spectators on the sidewalks clapping and cheering for everyone as they were running," Butler said. "My students were giving everyone a 'high five' and waving.

"It was a truly humbling event."

Children elsewhere throughout New Jersey joined nearly 3,000 officers who ushered a "Flame of Hope" across nearly 750 miles, stopping at or passing through just about every town in Bergen and Passaic counties, as spectators cheered.

Participants were hoping to break last year's $3.7 million record during Friday's 26 legs of the run, which began at 4:45 a.m.

Hasbrouck Heights police came in 2nd for a second straight year by raising $30,000 -- the department's 16th straight Top 10 finish.

Ridgefield PBA Local 330 finished 7th and Saddle River police 9th -- giving Bergen three of the top 10 in the state (The Middlesex/Dunnellen PBAs led the way).

All involved were grateful for the moderate temperatures, sunshine, camaraderie -- and the cheers.

"The runners alongside the students were making sure that the students were okay," Butler said. "One of the students jumped into the arms of one of the men running and he carried him a little distance.

"It was a truly amazing sight to see."

The ultimate destination: The College of New Jersey in Ewing, where the torch was to light a cauldron officially launching the Special Olympics New Jersey 2016 Summer Games around 7:30 p.m.

The games run through the weekend, with more than 2,500 athletes competing in seven sports: aquatics, bocce, gymnastics, power-lifting, softball, tennis and track & field.

Special Olympics New Jersey relies mostly on individual, corporate, civic and foundation contributions. One of its top grassroots contributors, the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is part of an international campaign coordinated and managed by all divisions of law enforcement officers and officials from throughout the world.

MORE INFO / DONATE: http://www.sonj.org/

Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon launched the International Torch Run in 1981. New Jersey held its first run in 1984, from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to Rutgers Stadium in New Brunswick.

The international event has expanded throughout the U.S. to 35 nations and 12 Canadian provinces.

Special Olympics New Jersey provides free year-round sports training and athletic competition in 24 Olympic-type sports for more than 23,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

******

PARTICIPATING DEPARTMENTS:

BERGEN COUNTY: Allendale, Bergenfield, Bergen County Sheriff's Office, Bogota, Carlstadt, Closter, Creskill, Demarest, Dumont, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Emerson, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Garfield, Glen Rock, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights,Hillsdale, Ho-Ho-Kis, Leonia, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Maywood, Midland Park, Montvale, New Milford, North Arlington, Northvale, Norwood, Oakland, Oradell, Palisades Park, Paramus, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgewood, River Edge, Rochelle Park, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Saddle River, South Hackensack, Teaneck, Tenafly, Upper Saddle River, Waldwick, Washington Township, Wood-Ridge, Woodcliff Lake, Wyckoff

PASSAIC COUNTY: Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, Passaic County Sheriff's Department, Passaic, Paterson, Pompton Lakes, Prospect Park, Wayne, West Milford, William Paterson University

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