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Hampton Roads law enforcement pass the torch for Special Olympics Virginia

Norfolk and Virginia Beach deputies and officers participated in the law enforcement Torch Run to celebrate and raise awareness for Special Olympics

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Norfolk and Virginia Beach law enforcement agencies ran for a cause on Wednesday morning.

Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Adam Bernstein has a unique connection to Special Olympics Virginia. It goes back to his time as a school resource officer and the relationships he built with students with intellectual disabilities.

“Listening to them just talk about Special Olympics," he said. "They would come into school wearing their medals, talking about their events from the weekend. It was at that moment I said I was going to start getting involved.”

For 20 years, Bernstein has been a part of the Special Olympics Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run.

It arrived in Virginia Beach Wednesday morning and he was there, ready to lace up, joining other members of the Department and the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s really special to us to not only be able to engage with the community but to really forge bonds that goes beyond the games,” said Sergeant Alecia Driscoll with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office.

The mix of athletes, officers, and deputies ran along Virginia Beach Boulevard to pass the torch to Norfolk agencies ahead of the summer games.

“It’s fun," said Special Olympics Athlete Antonio Rodriguez. "I enjoy it.”

“The passing of the torch is really kind of a passing of hope... that we’re succeeding and getting the message out to the community that these are really special individuals,” said Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron who is also the chairman of the Law Enforcement Torch Run

Then, Norfolk and Old Dominion University officers and Norfolk Sheriff deputies ran downtown to continue their leg of the run.

“It gives us an opportunity to raise money for Special Olympics and bond together,” Captain Renato Aponte with Norfolk Police.

“I thank them for everything that they have to support Special Olympics," said Special Olympics Athlete Kaitlin Dykes.

The torch will eventually make its way to Richmond to light up the cauldron and kick off the Special Olympics Virginia Summer Games Friday.

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