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Runners deliver Special Olympics torches

Nassau PD Chief Neil Delargy runs with the

Nassau PD Chief Neil Delargy runs with the flame of hope to benefit Special Olympics in Farmingdale, New York. (June 7, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

It was a good run, said Trent Hampton, 33, a construction supervisor from West Babylon who has competed in the Special Olympics for a decade and ran Thursday holding high a torch with Benjamin Beavers, 39, a dishwasher from Amityville.

Hampton and Beavers ran with hundreds of law enforcement officers and other Special Olympians from Long Island after they delivered two Special Olympics torches -- one for Nassau, one for Suffolk -- to Farmingdale State College's Great Lawn.

Nassau's torch was handed off by representatives of 19 agencies. The relay run started with the Bureau of Special Operations at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and ended with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Babylon; Suffolk's started with the Long Island MacArthur Airport police in East Islip and ended with the Farmingdale University police outside the school.

More runs are taking place across the country this summer, part of a tradition in which officers coach or help raise funds for the games, which are for athletes with mental disabilities. On June 15, runners will carry a torch to Buffalo for the launch of the 2012 State Summer Games.

At Farmingdale Thursday, runners assembled on Melville Road and ran the final leg together, with Special Olympics athletes, including Hampton and Beavers, in front.

"We're just being regular human athletes, just like everybody else," Hampton said.

Among the seasoned runners on the course: Doug Quiery, 46, a Suffolk County Correction officer and marathoner from Manorville, and Rob Ragonese, 35, a correction officer and Ocean Beach police officer who runs urbanathlons, which are similar to triathlons but take place on land.

"At times we get a bad rap," Quiery said. "We do things like this to let the community know we're here to help."

Quiery found understanding in Pavla O'Rourke, 35, of Northport, who ran with her husband, Sean, 35, a Special Olympics athlete. "Usually you meet them when you're getting pulled over or something, but they're just people like us. And some of them are great athletes."

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