Tri-County Students Create Cauldron for “Flame of Hope” Cauldron Lit during First Ever Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) Final Leg
Members of the first-ever Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg team use the Special Olympics torch to light the Flame of Hope in a cauldron built by students at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin.
By J.D. O’Gara
On June 7th, students and faculty lined the drive to Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, anxiously awaiting honored guests. A special team of Massachusetts Law Enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes, “Guardians of the Flame,” carrying the Special Olympics Torch, were coming. The first-ever Massachusetts LETR Statewide Final Leg would use the torch to light a cauldron created by students in Tri-County’s metal fabrication shop to hold the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope.”
The Special Olympics Torch and “Flame of Hope” symbolizes leadership in grassroots fundraising and community building that LETR contributes to Special Olympics Massachusetts, helping to bring inclusion to every city, town, school district, and neighborhood in the Commonwealth.
Karen Maguire, Superintendent of Tri-County, spoke about the student’s role in creating the torch for Special Olympics.
“Developing partnerships is very important for us here at Tri-County. In fact, it’s essential to the success of our organization. Partnerships provide a platform for sharing resources and developing new ideas. By forming strong partnerships, such as the one we now have with (Special Olympics, LETR), we can take advantage of each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses to create exciting opportunities for all our students.” Maguire gave a shout out to Tri-County’s metal fabrication program, and then a shout out to the entire school for coming out to cheer on their new partners in their competition.
President and CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts, Mary Beth McMahon encouraged onlookers to join in in the upcoming weekend event that would see 1,850 Massachusetts Special Olympics athletes compete in five sports at the Harvard Athletic Complex. She gave a shout out to another local community partner, Hockomock YMCA.
Co-directors of LETR leadership council, Rick Pierce, and Jim Digianvittorio each addressed the crowd.
“This is our first ever final leg run with our first ever final leg team,” said Rick Pierce. He explained the Law Enforcement Torch Run began in 1981 in Wichita, Kansas, and since that time, the program has grown to all 50 states and 46 countries, raising, to date, over $900 million for Special Olympics. In Massachusetts, the LETR has been in existence for 15 years, having raised in just the last couple of years $735,000 and hoping to raise a million in the next year or so.
Special Olympics athlete Matt Cobb, who hails from Franklin and is affiliated with the Hockomock YMCA, was honored to be part of the LETR Final Leg team.
“I am a multi-sport Special Olympic athlete for the Hockomock Area YMCA,” said Cobb, continuing, “Being part of Special Olympics has been life changing for me. I have made so many friends, and I’ve learned so many life lessons.
As an athlete, I am given not only the opportunity to compete in sports, but I’ve also been given the chance to be an ambassador talking to people, like you, about my journey.”
Cobb noted his accomplishments and friends on the team, adding, “Special Olympics gives us a safe space where we can be ourselves and be celebrated for our abilities. Being an athlete has taught me to be strong not only physically but also mentally. It has given me the chance to make new friends and to be a better person. I like to think I live by the athlete’s oath. ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave the attempt.””