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Special education teacher remembered during Torch Run | Community Spirit

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Special education teacher remembered during Torch Run
Special education teacher remembered during Torch Run

Pinellas County, Florida -- Students and law enforcement are working together to make a difference with a torch.

That flame made its way through Pinellas County today, stopping at several schools to raise awareness about the Special Olympics.

"Some of us train for a couple months to get out here," says St. Petersburg Police Major Melanie Bevan. "Some of these [Special Olympics] athletes, they train their whole lives for opportunities to run a mile, so why can't we go out there and really push ourselves?"

For Fitzgerald Middle School, the Special Olympics Torch Run means so much more.

Just before Christmas last year, special education teacher Gary Hester died of congestive heart failure. He had taught at Fitzgerald for nearly 20 years, and chaperoned at the Special Olympics regularly.

"We used to go outside to play football," says one of his students. "He made us laugh."

So his class, his school, and law enforcement taking part in the Torch Run wanted to remember him. The whole school lined up outside and cheered as the torch reached them. Students and staff pooled together over $400 in donations in Hester's name for the Special Olympics. His wife and daughter were there to honor him.

Then, Hester's class carried the torch onto the next leg of its mission, raising awareness about an issue they care so deeply about.

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