Portsmouth takes the torch for Special Olympics

Torch run

Patrolman Patrick O'Neill (with torch) and Lt. Bill Burns of the Portsmouth Police Department lead the pack during the 29th annual Special Olympics Torch Run Friday afternoon on Bristol Ferry Road. The other runners are (from left) Dave Craven of the state attorney general's (AG) office, North Kingstown firefighter Gregg Morash, Dave  Bonzagni of the AG's office, Newport Police Det. Mark Matoes, and Jim Baum of the AG's office.

Patrolman Patrick O’Neill (with torch) and Lt. Bill Burns of the Portsmouth Police Department lead the pack during the 29th annual Special Olympics Torch Run Friday afternoon on Bristol Ferry Road. The other runners are (from left) Dave Craven of the state attorney general’s (AG) office, North Kingstown firefighter Gregg Morash, Dave Bonzagni of the AG’s office, Newport Police Det. Mark Matoes, and Jim Baum of the AG’s office.

PORTSMOUTH — Two of the town’s men in blue, joined by a few friendly out-of-towners, joined the East Bay leg of the 29th annual torch run for the R.I. Special Olympics Summer Games this weekend.

After runners were driven over the Mt. Hope Bridge, they met up with several runners at the Mount Hope Animal Hospital and then continued the leg south on Bristol Ferry Road.

Carrying the “Flame of Hope” was Police Patrolman Patrick O’Neill, with his colleague Lt. Bill Burns running alongside. They were joined by Dave Craven, Dave Bonzagni and Jim Baum of the R.I. attorney general’s office, Newport Police Det. Mark Matoes and North Kingstown firefighter Gregg Morash. The two Portsmouth officers said they would be running a leg of about seven miles.

The torch run is an annual event, cutting through the length of Rhode Island and ending at Meade Field at the University of Rhode Island, where the Special Olympic events take place. The East Bay leg of the torch run went through East Providence, Barrington, Warren and Bristol before crossing over the Mt. Hope Bridge into Portsmouth and Middletown. As the torch reached each community, it was handed off to officers in the respective towns.

The event is part of an international campaign coordinated and managed by all divisions of law enforcement officers and officials throughout the world to raise dollars and awareness of the Special Olympics movement.

Torch runIn Rhode Island, over 35 police departments, fire departments, R.I. State Police and correctional officers provide financial and public awareness for Special Olympics Rhode Island. They also provide volunteer support to all Special Olympics Rhode Island area and state competitions by presenting medals to the athletes.

The nonprofit organization provides sports training and athletic competition for children as well as adults with intellectual disabilities.

For more information, call 349-4900.

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