MERRIMACK — For Scotty McCullough, running two miles in the pouring rain on Wednesday was more than just a workout — it was a milestone achievement for the Special Olympic athlete ready to take on his next challenge.
“I am trying to prove that people with disabilities can do anything they put their mind to,” McCullough said after running from Nashua’s Liberty Hill into Merrimack as part of the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run.
He joined about 30 police officers from the Nashua Police Department who were there to support McCullough in his upcoming journey — the State Summer Games at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
McCullough is one of about 1,000 Special Olympic athletes who will compete in the coming days, running relays and playing softball.
Jennifer Lisee, McCullough’s girlfriend, also trekked through the rain on Monday, showing her love for Nashua’s police force, and her passion for the Special Olympics.
“We are ‘Team Nashua,’” said an enthusiastic Lisee, adding she was thrilled to be a part of something so meaningful. Hundreds of police officers from across the state are participating in the ongoing Law Enforcement Torch Run, which started May 17 and will conclude Friday at the opening ceremonies of the State Summer Games.
The Flame of Hope is being passed along in a series of 22 legs covering more than 800 miles throughout New Hampshire. On Wednesday, state and local police officers ran different legs of the race from Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford and into Manchester. The race will continue today with runners traveling north to the State House in Concord.
“The amount of love that we get back from participating in these events is a good feeling, and it helps bring awareness to such an important cause,” said Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle, who joined several officers from his department to run 8.5 miles on Wednesday.
The torch run is really about the Special Olympic athletes who have worked hard to overcome obstacles and reach their goals, said Lt. Gregory Ferry of the New Hampshire State Police. “There is sheer joy in watching them participate in these games. It is very rewarding for not only them, but for us as well.”
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, along with several runners from Merrimack High School, joined in the torch run to help raise money and awareness.
“It is nice to help donate to the Special Olympics, and to help let these kids know that they are important,” said Alicia Kane, 17, a junior at Merrimack High School.
For Nashua’s Police Chief John Seusing, the torch run is about supporting individuals that have become very close with the police department — specifically McCullough and Lisee.
“The Special Olympics is very important to us, mostly because it is important to them,” said Seusing, adding his officers are participating in the run on their own time because they want to promote the cause and cheer on their friends.