As the sun peaked over the horizon early one October morning, the scene at the Delaware Memorial Bridge was filled with a most unlikely kind of traffic. Instead of thousands of cars, hundreds of pedsters were seen jogging across 3 of 4 northbound lanes of the bridge — from one end to the other — in a 5K “Run for Acceptance” for Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Delaware hosts several clever athletic fundraisers throughout the year, including the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge and Over the Edge, where daring individuals repel ‘over the edge’ of a 17-story office building in Wilmington. But the October 1 race marked the first time they organized a race across a major bridge, and it was the first time the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) agreed to close all but one lane of northbound bridge traffic to allow 225 passionate supporters to run for their favorite charity.
More than $34,000 was raised for Special Olympics Delaware, a nonprofit that provides sports training and competition opportunities for more than 4,200 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. For some of the runners, it was an opportunity to support an event that raises money for the very cause that has given so much to their own family.
“Special Olympics has been a vital part of our family’s life for over 15 years,” said Kim Bates, whose son participates year-round in the program. “Special Olympics has provided Justin with incredible opportunities through sports, camps and attending the 2018 USA Games in Seattle. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, especially our first responders who ran today to promote acceptance for Special Olympics Delaware athletes.”
“What a tremendous event,” said DRBA Executive Director Tom Cook. “Our police administrator, Col. Rick Arroyo, is a passionate supporter of Special Olympics Delaware and has been advocating for this special event for a few years. It was a great day for Special Olympics Delaware.”