Sixteen sworn officers from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Corrections and Law Enforcement, along with a civilian teacher for the Morris County Correctional Facility, ran a 3.9 mile route as a team June 7 to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics NJ.
The team’s run was one leg of the 36th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run that culminates in the June 7 nighttime torch lighting of a cauldron to formally kick off the opening ceremony of the Summer Special Olympics NJ, being held June 7 through June 9 at the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.
The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard will be present for the opening ceremony. Sheriff’s Office System Analyst Jane Recktenwald is volunteering for Special Olympics NJ as she has for several decades.
The Sheriff’s Office team – which ran a route extending from Zamrok Way in Morris Township to the Olde Mill Inn in Bernards Township – received the torch from a team of runners from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Friday afternoon, and passed the torch off at the end of their run to law enforcement officers in Bernards Township.
“I’m proud that officers and civilians in the Morris County Sheriff’s Office care about advancing a noble cause like the Special Olympics, which is dear to many of our hearts,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
This year’s runners, some of whom have participated in the Torch Run in previous years, were: Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Michael Schweizer, Corrections Sergeants Raymond Dykstra and Andrew Bileci, and Corrections Officers Manny Flores, Robert Takacs, Mike Dezenzo, Dave Wasilewski, Daniele Vandenbos, Brian Rzucidlo, Brian Kooger, Nicole Levendusky, and civilian Teacher Gradie Carroll, who also coaches the Morristown High School girl’s cross-country team.
Runners from the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement were: Detective Lieutenant Kelley Duane-Zienowicz, Corporal Jen Franke-Parrillo, and Officers Dana DelGrosso, Kayla Santos and Nicholas Vernotica.
Unions at the Morris County Correctional Facility – PBA 298, SOA 298, and FOP 137 – paid $100 for each of the facility’s runners to participate in the Torch Run while PBA 151, which represents Officers in the Bureau of Law Enforcement, matched the amount each officer raised to participate. Officer Vernotica raised $550, and Officer DelGrosso raised $200 – more than the minimum contribution.
For the run, all the officers donned red T-shirts bearing the logo “36th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run.” They stretched and swapped stories about past Torch Runs, some taking place on scorching hot days.
“I’ve always wanted to do it but my work schedule didn’t allow it. This year I could do it and I’m fit, and it’s a great cause,” said Officer Kooger.