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
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
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
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
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
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
There are more than 85,000 law enforcement officers from around
the world volunteering for the movement, according to Special
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
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
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
(China.org.cn by Chen Wen and Zhou Jing, July 26, 2007)