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Local police personnel carry the torch for Special Olympics

Belmont Police Officer Patrick Riley and Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier flanked Sgt. Joe Marcello of Belmont as he ran the Torch of Hope past the Tilton Town Hall last Thursday to make the public aware of the Special Olympics Summer Games in Durham last weekend. The three were accompanied by officers from Laconia, Gilford, Tilton and Northfield, and cheered on by many residents along the route to Franklin. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 06, 2012
TILTON — Law enforcement officers from all across the state joined forces last Thursday morning to spread the word about the New Hampshire Special Olympics 2012 Summer Games as scores of them ran a Torch of Hope through 18 sectors of the state.

At 2 p.m. that day, they all convened at the State Capitol in Concord, where the official torch was handed over to Gov. John Lynch for safe-keeping before making its way to the Opening Ceremonies in Durham the following morning.

The men and women of New Hampshire's police departments have participated in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for 32 of the games' 43 years, and many have made the event a tradition.

"In the Lakes Region, the run began today at the Meredith Police Department, down to McIntyre Circle, through Laconia, a section of Gilford, and then through Belmont along Route 3," said Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier. "From there, it headed to Tilton, where we ran it to Franklin."

Because of heavier traffic now experienced along narrower sections of the route, the torch and its runners would occasionally hop aboard a large van to drive the torch to safer sections before hitting the pavement again.

"In the ('90's), we would run it the whole length of our leg," said Lt. Richard Paulhus of Tilton. "That's just not wise now in some spots, with all the traffic."

Once the Laconia Police Department successfully made their way through their town, the torch was handed over to Cormier and another team of runners from the Gilford, Northfield and Tilton police departments.

Warming up for the run, Officer Nancy Hicks of Northfield said that the warm temperatures and the distance to Franklin's town line made it a somewhat challenging run.

"But it's really worth it," she said.

The runners were accompanied by Laconia Police Officer Gary Hubbard, Lt. Ryan Martin of Tilton, motorcycle officer Lt. John Raffaelly of Northfield and his Chief, Steve Adams, who was driving the van. As they ran through Tilton, the runners responded to chants called out by Chief Cormier, and were applauded by town officials and business owners when the torch passed by.

"We're kind of the mobile message board to let people know the Special Olympics are beginning," Cormier said. "We want to raise awareness of the games, and get as many as possible to come out and support these great kids in all they do."

Those who ran the Tilton to Franklin leg of the torch run were Gilford Police Officer Holly Harris; representing Belmont's Police Department, Sgt. Joe Marcello and Officer Patrick Riley, along with his brother and USMC recruit, Connor Riley; from Northfield's Police Department, Officer Nancy Hicks; and from Tilton PD, Lt. Richard Paulhus and Chief Robert Cormier.

Cormier, who is deeply involved in New Hampshire Special Olympics, had the honor of handing out medals to those who placed or won their events at the games in Durham. Over the weekend, Cormier reported that he was thrilled to see many members of a local team, the Winnipesaukee Warriors, walk away with top honors in many of their competitions.

"It's been a fabulous time. You just can't explain how gratifying it is to see these kids compete, and how happy they are to receive a medal for all of their hard work, no matter where they place," Cormier said.

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