Home / Sports / News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Bush to Welcome Shanghai Special Olympics Torch
Adjust font size:

The flame of the 2007 Shanghai Special Olympics is set to arrive in the US, with a torch relay ceremony scheduled at the Rose Garden of the White House on July 26.

US President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush plan to attend the lighting ceremony, along with a representative from the Shanghai organizing committee, a group of US congressmen, and Washington Mayor Anthony Williams. Dr. Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International, and the Chinese delegation will also attend the ceremony and deliver a speech.

Liu Peng, minister of the State General Administration of Sports and executive president of the Shanghai Special Olympics Organizing Committee will also address the ceremony on behalf of Chinese top leaders.

According to the arrangement, two Special Olympics athletes, Qiao Meili from China and another from the US, will together hold the torch, which is to be ignited by a Law Enforcement Torch Run official at 12:00 AM. It will then be passed to Mayor Williams and the Washington Chief of Police via Bush. Along with the two athletes holding the torch, they will run to the White House South Lawn and officially start the Law Enforcement Torch Run in the US.

At 12:15, a Torch Run team of 200 law enforcement officers and 20 athletes will begin running from the White House South Lawn and arrive at the Chinese embassy around 13:55, passing through the Capitol, the Sanitation and Human Resource Department, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and the Chinatown Friendship Arch.

Minister Zheng Zeguang of the Chinese embassy and the two athletes will ignite altar fires in the embassy garden, followed later by a grand welcoming ceremony and reception.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics began in 1981 when Police Chief Richard LaMunyon from Wichita, Kansas saw an urgent need to raise funds and increase awareness of the Special Olympics. He conceived of the idea of a Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel in the community with the Special Olympics. This idea was soon supported by local governments, and later dubbed the Law Enforcement Torch Run by Special Olympics International.

The 2007 Special Olympics will be held from October 2 to 12 in Shanghai, the first time for the event to be hosted by a developing country. It is also the first time the route of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will be extended to ten countries and areas in five continents. In the past, the activity was only held in Greece and the host country.

The US is the third stop of the torch relay. After the flame was collected in Greece on June 29, it arrived in Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria on July 2, and was then delivered to London. After its US stop, it will travel to Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Macao, and over ten Chinese mainland cities before finally arriving in Shanghai on October 2.

Passing the 'Flame of Hope'

It is an exciting opportunity to carry the torch for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, held in Shanghai this October. For Lieutenant John Newnan of Maryland, it's an "extreme honor" to be the guardian of this "Flame of Hope."

He was immediately in the spotlight as he arrived, with the special lantern that carries the "Flame of Hope" in hand, at the Special Olympics International (SOI) Headquarters in Washington D.C. Wednesday morning.

"My job is to protect the flame and to make sure that it doesn't go out," Newnan said. The lieutenant, together with his team members, will try to maintain the integrity of the flame throughout this leg of its journey.

It is the original flame that was collected from Athens, Greece on June 29. Washington D.C. is the third stop of its 22,000-mile journey across the world, following Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt and London, UK.

Transported via the global logistics network of DHL under a partnership between the company and SOI, and carried by torch on the ground by a team of Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement officers, the flame will travel through cities in over 10 countries and regions on five continents before reaching Shanghai for the opening ceremony of the 2007 World Games on October 2.

In Newnan's eyes, the most significant part of the experience for the law enforcement officers joining the torch run is probably the opportunity to "really get involved in the community."

The lieutenant told Beijing Review that the police officers usually see the bad side of people and he hoped the Law Enforcement Torch Run would be a chance for them to see the good instead and witness the immediate impact of what they were doing by helping raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run has been a Special Olympics tradition for over a quarter century since it was started in 1981. At that time, Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw a need to raise funds and increase awareness for the organization, and thus conceived the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel in the community and to support Special Olympics Kansas. The program was later adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and has now become the Special Olympics' largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle.

There are more than 85,000 law enforcement officers from around the world volunteering for the movement, according to Special Olympics International.

During the past year's efforts throughout the world, the torch run activity has helped raised over US$20 million which all goes to communities to support local programs for the Special Olympics, said Bob Gobrecht, managing director for Special Olympics North America.

But raising funds is not the only goal. Gobrecht told Beijing Review that through the torch run, "we would like to keep people talking about the movement for a long time," so that more people will get to know about the Special Olympics and more people will start to care about people with disabilities.

Bob Gobrecht, Managing Director for Special Olympics North America,speaks at the ceremony for the arrival of the Flame of Hope at the Special Olympics International Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Lieutenant John Newnan carries flame of hope.

The Envoys of the Special Olympics

Li Yujun, from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, will kick off the torch run from the White House on July 26 with the Special Olympics athletes. Li hopes the move will enable more people to understand people who are mentally challenged based on the games' spirit of "equality, tolerance, and acceptance."

Qiao Meili, a Special Olympics star athlete from China's Jiangsu Province, has devoted herself to the promotion of the Special Olympics since she was named as the global Special Olympics leader at the age of 16 in 2005.

Zhao Zengzheng, a 19-year-old envoy for the Special Olympics, poses during her first visit to America. She will participate in the 50m dash at the Shanghai Special Olympics in October.

Garrie Barnes, Special Olympics athlete from Maryland, displays her medal at the ceremony. The 27-year-old will participate in the 100m sprint and long jump at the Shanghai Special Olympics.

(China.org.cn by Chen Wen and Zhou Jing, July 26, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Phelps Visits Liu Xiang in Beijing
- Mascot of 2007 Special Games Launched
- A Special Ray of Sunshine
- Bids for Kids
- Events Mark 100-day Countdown to Special Olympics
- Flame for Special Olympics Lit up in Athens
- Shanghai Special Olympics Flame Arrives in Egypt's Alexandria
- Shanghai Ensures Success of Special Olympics
- Special Olympics Exhibit Opens in Shanghai
Most Viewed >>