Special Olympians from York County gather following the Special Olympics Time Trials held last month in Berwick. SUBMITTED PHOTO

SANFORD – As the state of Maine gets ready for its June Special Olympics and the celebration of its 50th year of honoring individuals with special needs, local police officers are getting ready, too.

Last Tuesday. the Sanford Police Department met the North Berwick Police at Waban on Route 4 in Sanford to pass the “Flame of Hope” torch.

From Kittery to Madawaska, police officers from all over take part in the Torch Run to raise funds, as well as to profile the Special Olympics. After traveling many miles throughout Maine, the “Flame of Hope” torch reached Orono to kick off the state’s Special Olympic events, which wrap up today.

Waban officials say they’re excited that several of its members will participate in the Orono games.

Special Olympic Athlete, John, looks forward to his eighth year at the games and is particularly looking forward to being with the friends that he’s made at the annual games.

This year, the Special Olympics organization is celebrating its 50th year as a global inclusion movement using sports, health, education and leadership programs to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.

According to Neal Meltzer, executive director of Waban, “We are proud of all our special athletes for being willing to take risks, work hard and to be a part of a team. The Special Olympics and Waban share a similar mission: that of bringing meaning and dignity to people who experience disabilities in their lives.”

The goal of the Special Olympics is to have people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success, through the power of sports.

For more than 50 years, Waban has been working on behalf of children and adults with autism, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, providing services and supporting more than 3,000 individuals annually. It offers many programs including residential services, adult day programs, therapeutic preschool and K-2 programs, children’s and adult case management, employment services and clinical services.

For more information, visit www.waban.org or call 324-7955.

Comments are not available on this story.