I admit, I refer to it as "my flame." Yes, I was privileged to be one of this summer's Unified Relay Across America Torch Bearers. Though by far one of the most thrilling moments I've lived, while running the Flame of Hope through the streets of Astoria, Queens I realized this open fire seemed a casual curiosity to those going about the business of shopping, walking from work and wheeling the clothes to the laundromat. (Have I mentioned how heavy and REAL that torch was? I almost lit my hair on fire. Twice.) Was the symbolism of this journey apparent to those on the sidelines?
In following the progress of the Flame of Hope since I last saw it in 2011 at the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, I am almost taken back by the progress that has been made. The "R-word" is fading into obscurity. The Unified Sports movement that saw my son play in its very first World Games contest in softball in 2011 is now close to one million athletes strong; thanks to a collaboration with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, social acceptance through sports is no longer simply a dream.
(Keep your eye on #11!!)
|Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum- venue for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony|
|Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver|
"My" Flame of Hope that was ignited in the home of the last Special Olympics World Games, Athens, traveled the Atlantic Ocean, into my humble hands in New York City, crossed over 4,500 miles of this country, and ignited the Olympic Cauldron in Los Angeles Memorial Stadium lit up minds and opened hearts. Let the teachers become the students. And let's see how many minds the Torch sparks before the next Games...
My Special Olympics Journey: