Graham Wiley continues tradition leading Torch Run for Special Olympics in Camden
CAMDEN – Many communities in Maine have their traditions, including Camden, where during the first week in June there is an annual, early morning gathering in front of the Town Office for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.
For the Wiley family of Camden, the annual torch run is a permanent entry on their calendar. For several years, Graham Wiley, 27, a Special Olympics athlete, has carried the torch at the starting line to help steer the runners along Elm Street, while his parents, Beverly and Sherwood, stand on the sidelines, coaching him along the starting line.
Graham has competed in the games since he was in Kindergarten and has earned several medals over the years. This year, he has been training for the standing long jump and softball throw for the Special Olympics competition being held June 8-10 at the University of Maine in Orono.
Beverly said at a previous torch run that Graham works hard to train and knows what he needs to do to prepare for the games, while his father added that he likes to win his medals.
But, training for the Special Olympics is just one aspect of Graham's daily routine. Typically he is out and about in the community every day shopping and doing errands with his parents. Two of their favorite spots to visit are the Camden Public Library for videos and Renys, where Graham likes to find any new toy zebras to add to his collection.
Beverly emphasized how the community has embraced her son.
"Everyone is so patient and kind to him," Beverly said. "They respect him for who he is."
There is no doubt that Graham's family, including his sister who is cheering him on from North Carolina, are proud of his accomplishments, both with Special Olympics and how he approaches each day.
This year the law enforcement officers who ran in the first segment of the torch run were Sgt. John Tooley and Wes Butler of the Camden Police Department and Chris Taylor and Tony DelVecchio of Rockport Police. DelVecchio completed the longest leg of the run by running 12 miles to Thomaston where he was greeted by his wife, Lindsey, and his newborn son.
Each year, nearly 600 members of Maine law enforcement run approximately 800 miles carrying the Flame of Hope. The state is divided into sections or legs. Each leg covers a portion of the state, beginning the Tuesday prior to the State Summer Games, and concludes Friday evening at Opening Ceremonies, as the torch is carried into the stadium, according to the organization's website.
Runners raise funds for Special Olympics Maine, which reaches out to over 4,300 athletes across the state, in a number of ways including obtaining pledges for the actual run and holding Tip-A-Cop events at local restaurants. To date, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Maine has raised well over one million dollars.
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