`A tremendous runner' sets the pace

Neighbors

June 17, 1999|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE PLAN was to run a few hundred yards, but when Steven Miller finally stopped running, he had covered 11 miles -- the length of U.S. 1 through Howard County.

From the border at Baltimore County just north of Elkridge to North Laurel, Miller, 18, led a troop of officers June 3 in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Maryland.

But Miller is not a law enforcement officer -- not even a cadet. He is a Special Olympics athlete.

"Steven wanted to run with us," said Maj. Jeffrey Spaulding, deputy chief for operations with the Howard County police.

The torch was carried across the border of Baltimore and Howard counties and passed to Miller. He carried it for a while, then passed it to a police officer. But instead of dropping out of the run, as is commonly done, Miller stayed with the group of officers.

"We were surprised we had such a tremendous runner in the pack," Spaulding said. "He set the pace all the way from Elkridge to Laurel."

Steven Miller ran just behind the police van that was leading the way. He was one of the few who did not take a break.

Running is second nature to Miller, a resident of Highland. He just completed his junior year at Atholton High School, where he is on the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams. He is ranked among the top 15 high school runners in the state.

"I just stuck with the police officers," Miller said. "I felt fine because I stay in shape. It didn't bother me at all."

"It was one of those good moments as a parent, one of the better moments," his mother, Jackie Miller, said of her son's run.

The event was part of a series of relay runs -- celebrated by torch-lighting ceremonies along the way -- in communities across Maryland. More than 4,000 law enforcement officers ran some 1,500 miles through 21 counties in May and June.

The final leg ended in Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, College Park. The torch was used to light an Olympic-style caldron sitting atop a column. The caldron burned throughout the Special Olympics Maryland 1999 Summer Games, held June 4-6.

Special Olympics Maryland provides year-round sports training to children and adults with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities.

This is the first year that Miller has participated in the torch run, and his first year in the state-level summer games.

He competed in bowling, earning a silver medal and a gold. Miller says that since he runs so much for school, he wants to compete in other sports through Special Olympics. He also plays basketball.

The Maryland Summer Games are held annually. Local competitions are held in each county to select the athletes who will attend the state games.

Three other western Howard County athletes participated in the state-level summer games.

Tiffany Brooks, 20, of Glenelg competed in "athletics" -- a category usually called track and field. She was awarded three medals: silvers in the 50-meter dash and softball throw, and a bronze in the 100-meter dash.

A participant in Special Olympics for as long as she can remember, Brooks also bowls and swims.

She recently received her certificate of completion of education from Howard Community College and started working in the dining room at Brighton Gardens, an assisted-living facility in Columbia.

Her mother, Tina Brooks, says that Tiffany's experience in Special Olympics has been very positive.

"It gets her involved with other athletes and it really makes her feel good about herself," Tina Brooks said. Last year, Tiffany received a Special Olympics sportsmanship award.

The Howard County Special Olympics softball team brought home the gold medal this year. One of the team members was Anthony Sipocz of West Friendship.

Anthony, 12, played catcher. He said he thought all along that the team would win the gold medal.

The high point, he said, was when he had "a great hit into deep left center field."

Anthony is a sixth-grader at Mount View Middle School and also plays basketball.

Doug Shaw, who grew up in Clarksville, was a member of the bowling team.

Shaw, 38, has participated in Special Olympics for the past four years. He also competed in Special Olympics while he was in school.

In the 1999 Summer Games, he won a silver medal in bowling.

Farewell, Mr. Chillemi

More than 200 people attended a farewell party last Thursday for Lisbon Elementary School Principal Louis Chillemi, who will move to Longfellow Elementary this summer.

After a picnic dinner, held in the gymnasium due to inclement weather, Lou Chillemi and his wife, Carol, cut the farewell cake.

Families contributed money for a gift certificate to a nursery in Ocean Pines on the Eastern Shore. Chillemi and his wife are building a vacation home there. Lisbon PTA President Natalie Evans and a group of children presented the gift, along with a wheelbarrow full of flowers.

"He helped our children grow, so we thought we'd encourage him to grow something in memory of our children," said Evans, whose son, C. J., is a first-grader at the school.

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