This week brought a pivotal event on the road to the opening of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. This was the week that the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” arrived in the United States. The Special Olympics flame symbolizes the outstanding courage to compete, and the celebration of diversity that the Special Olympics movement represents. It is important to have the flame, a physical symbol of the diversity and acceptance the Special Olympics. The torch relay transports the flame from where it is lit in Athens, Greece, to the site of the opening ceremony for the games, where it ignites the cauldron in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The lighting of the cauldron on July 25 will signify the start of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games!
This week, the “Flame of Hope” landed in Washington, D.C., where members of law enforcement will act as Guardians of the Flame, and will light three torches that will travel across the United States in three simultaneous routes allowing the “Flame of Hope” to visit communities in all 50 states, as part of the Unified Relay Across America, presented by Bank of America. This traveling throughout the US is diffusing many cultures together.
On July 13, the final leg of this hand-to-hand exchange relay across America will begin with the hand-off of the flame to the 2015 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Final Leg Team, consisting of 98 law enforcement officers and 10 Special Olympics athletes. The Final Leg represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the World. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has become a worldwide community of law enforcement officers rallying to support Special Olympics, creating millions of new friendships around the world as well as raising millions of dollars in funds for the Special Olympics.
The final leg will travel from the state capital in Sacramento, taking three separate routes through 120 cities in California over 14 days. During this time the Special Olympics athletes, along with the law enforcement partners, will tell their personal stories at over 119 ceremonies, helping to bring awareness, understanding and acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities to cities and towns throughout California, while creating awareness and excitement for Special Olympics, as well as support and attendance of the World Games. The “Flame of Hope” and its message will arrive in Los Angeles for the July 25 Opening Ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.
The “Flame of Hope” is a vital force in bringing this world together through acceptance. Let us welcome this flame to our home, and let us welcome acceptance.
Photo Credit: Vassilis Koutromanos.
At the torch lighting ceremony in Athens, Greece, Patrick McClenahan, Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 president, and Joanna Despotopoulou, Special Olympics Hellas President