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The CIA, Cable 5, Our Fathers Ride and Raider Pride. A grand 31-hours.

POSTED June 01, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Raider Pride Day raised over $17,000 for local organizations on Friday at the high school. Senior Mia Barbieri won the "frozen tee-shirt" competition to help the senior calls win the day.

TORRINGTON: That was some kind of 31-hour stretch.

I’d easily call it my kind of busy with non-stop action from morning to night.

The CIA, Cable 5, Our Fathers Ride and a Raider Rally.

From 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning to about 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, four very different and exciting happens dominated my landscape and I’m here to tell you about them.

Thursday morning at a packed Cornucopia, more than 200 local business leaders gathered to hear former Undercover CIA Directorate of Operations, James M. Olson talk about his remarkable 31-year career with the mostly organization.   

For more than an hour, a hushed crowd of folks not normally prone to be silent for that long, listened intently to the stories Olson told them.

Stories about how he got involved in the CIA, places he traveled to while undercover and the amazing fact that his bride was also a member of the secret organization.

His fear that we will no doubt be attacked again in the not so distant future on a mass scale that include weapons of mass destruction were disturbing but realistic and how our ability to gain intelligence is more important today as ever before.

His service to his country is a remarkable one. Close friends and even his family knew nothing of what he really did for a living, something that cost him relationships when he came out after taking a job at Texas A+M as a professor.

One story hit a funny cord though.

With all the different covers he had to assume during his more than three decades in the CIA, Olsen would often have to switch jobs.

This did not sit well with his father-in-law who was actually relived to find out his son in law was able to hold down a steady job after so many changes.

Thanks for your service Mr. Olsen, we are indebted to you.

----Later Thursday night, we launched the Litchfield County Sports Show on our community station, Cable 5.

We have taped our show at multiple locations, including Applebee’s, Sawyers and at Thomaston High School but had been looking forward to using the studios of Cablevision to get our program out to a larger audience.

Two terrific shows were taped that night and will run this Thursday between 8 and 9 p.m.

Each episode is a half hour long and will run back to back over the hour.

Segment one featured two great friends of the program, Olympic medalist and New York City Marathon winner Rod Dixon and his partner in health, Bill Burgess.

The duo spoke about their passion, Kidsmarathon, a movement which is working with school age students between that ages of 7-12 years old, teaching them good eating habits and how running can be fun.

Each child who signs up will run the equivalent of a 26.2 mile marathon by the time they finish running the final mile with Dixon himself.

Burgess spoke of “5210”. No, it’s not a new television show, it’s the mantra of a healthy life style that looks for kids to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two total hours of screen time (including phones, computers and TV) a day, one hour of vigorous exercise a day and zero sugary drinks.

After listening to him tell me for years now, I finally remember what Bill told us!

It’s a marvelous thing these two men are doing, they are truly changing people’s lives and it’s not just the kids, the parents are listening as well.

That half hour flew by, as all our shows do.

The next thirty minute segment featured two more terrific friends of LCS, Torrington athletic Director, Michael McKenna and the one and only Billy Neller, he of LHRR fame.

McKenna is the guiding hand in athletics for the Raiders and has the hardest job in the entire building. Just look out the window today and see how the re-scheduling must be in full swing at the high school.

He’s a guy who bleeds maroon and white and is always looking out for what is in the kid’s best interest.

Neller filled us in on all the good things the weekend of the Litchfield Hills Road Race has to offer the Litchfield area and how after 39 remarkable years of the race, it’s still a great weekend of activities with a little race thrown in the middle for good measure!

Tune in Thursday night between 8-9 p.m. on Cable 5 and check out our work. I think you will enjoy it.

---After a late night on Thursday, it was up and out early on Friday, covering “Our Fathers Ride”, a fund raiser for the St Peters/St Francis School in Torrington.

Father Jim Sullivan had come up with the idea as a way to raise money to help students afford the cost of attending the Catholic School that has been the starting point for so many Torrington residents.

The bike ride, which began with a police and state police escort down South Main Street and up Route 118 to the Lourdes Shrine for a Mass and blessing of the bikes before the first leg of the journey took off for New York State.

In total, 350 miles will be logged before the trip ends in Maryland on June 4 at the National Shrine of St Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone and Raider girls basketball coach Mike Fritch (7 weeks removed from a new hip), joined Father Sullivan on the trip to Litchfield.

It’s a journey you can follow on the rides Facebook page, “Our Fathers Ride”.

As of Monday night, the trip had been smooth except for a flat tire on Sunday that was quickly taken care of.  

A great effort by a priest looking to make a difference in his community, church and school.

---Friday afternoon marked the end of the remarkable 31-hour adventure at Torrington High School for the Raider Rally.

The Raider Rally is an event, started three ago, designed to help the four classes in the school raise some money for the Torrington community while having a blast in the school and eventually outside on the fields.

Each class looked to raise as much money as they could while trying to win as many fun based games.

After a hard fought morning, the junior class held a slight edge but once the adventure moved outside, it was the upperclassmen who took over.

It started with a win in the water balloon toss, followed by a hard fought and cold win by Mia Barbieri in a frozen tee-shirt contest that left a table worse for the wear from the five competitors looking to get the tangled frozen clothing free for wearing.

Matt Traub pulled out an endurance win in the “Plant”, a game that requires strength and endurance with push-ups held in both the upright and down positions.

The stands were packed with the four classes who displayed their Raider pride on both their tee-shirts and in voice while cheering for their teammates.

These team building exercises are an important part of building school pride and the teachers and students did a great job showing just that.

---There are always days that stick out for me more than others, this was a day + that featured four unique events that what is best about the people in the Torrington area.

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