When the clock struck 7:00 am today, the iconic, twin-span bridge over the Delaware River became, for the better part of an hour, a runner and pedestrian freeway.
Nearly 350 participants dashed across three of the four lanes on the northbound span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge at the crack of dawn, inspired with the goal of raising funds for Special Olympics on what must be one of the loftiest, suspended courses on the national 5K circuit.
Anthony Apostolico (19:46.7) of Wilmington and Emma Beisheim (21:05.9) of Newark crossed the tape first in the men and women’s divisions, respectively, joining their fellow runners in raising more than $35,000 for the organization that provides sports training and competition opportunities for more than 4200 Delaware children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Coordinating the logistics around the lane closures on the busy thoroughfare connecting Delaware and New Jersey was no easy feat.
“I’m thoroughly impressed with the meticulous planning, coordination and cooperation, and significant volunteer support that made today’s event so successful,” said Tom Cook, Executive Director of the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) which manages the bridge.
“The bridge run is a win-win, bucket list type of event – participants get a chance to walk or run on the iconic Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Authority is able to help such a worthy and special community organization raise money to further their mission goals; but everyone knows that the real winners are the beneficiaries of Special Olympics Delaware,” he said.
The walking event on the bridge included an expanded field of not only active and retired first-responders, but also their family members and friends.
Jeannine Carrio, whose daughter participates in Special Olympics and whose husband and son have participated in all three of the bridge runs, said it was a “magical” event to behold.
“It seems magical and special to be able to enjoy a run or walk on the Delaware Memorial Bridge while raising funds for Special Olympics.” Carrio noted family members came from Puerto Rico, Texas and Pittsburgh to participate in the run.
Special Olympics organizers acknowledged other contributors to the event including Delaware Law Enforcement for Special Olympics, Delaware National Guard, Larkins Bus Services, Emergency Medical Service, and law enforcement and fire officials from several agencies across the First State.
“This third and by far the largest Bridge Run to date,” said Ann Grunert, Executive Director of Special Olympics Delaware. “Their efforts as a collective group not only made this event a success but helped us achieve our goal of creating awareness of the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The funds raised by the runners and walkers help us reach more athletes.”