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Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) Takes over Final Run for Special Olympics Team

Greece

Today, the2015 Special Olympics World Games (LA2015) celebrates the Special Olympics Flame of Hope arriving in the United States to continue its journey of 6,890 miles to California. Upon its arrival on July 25, the Flame of Hope will be handed over to the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics team and taken through 120 cities across California at various events. The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is Special Olympics’ largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle in the world.

As Guardians of the Flame®, the LETR Final Leg Team will ensure the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 World Games and ignite the cauldron at the Historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics Games’ Opening Ceremonies. With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – being staged in Los Angeles July 25 – August 2, 2015 – will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015.

“For more than 30 years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been an integral part of the Special Olympics Movement,” said Patrick McClenahan, LA2015 President and CEO. “We look forward to seeing Californians cheering on the runners as they bring the World Games message of acceptance and inclusion throughout the state.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is Special Olympics’ largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle in the world. More than 90,000 law enforcement members in all 50 U.S. States, 12 Canadian provinces/territories, and 44 other countries contribute to LETR efforts annually as Guardians of the Flame®, ensuring the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games, and national/regional Games.

The LETR Final Leg for the 2015 World Games is being presented by Bank of America and will take place from July 13-July 25 featuring three routes that will all merge in Los Angeles for the start of the 2015 World Games. The Final Leg will include a total distance of 4,648 miles, where the LETR team will start out from Sacramento and embark on three separate routes. A team of 126 members – which includes 98 law enforcement officer runners, 10 Special Olympics athletes, and logistics personnel – will serve as Guardians of the Flame as they run the Flame of Hope through 120 cities across California at various events. Law Enforcement runners from around the world are selected to represent their Torch Run and Special Olympics Programs in the Final Leg. The Special Olympics athletes were selected to be a part of the Final Leg Team based on nominations received from around the world.

“The Final Leg event is an amazing opportunity for law enforcement officers from around the world who work tirelessly year-round in support of Special Olympics, not only to help build excitement for the World Games and create awareness for Special Olympics, but also to showcase and highlight the skills and abilities of their teammates, ten (10) Special Olympics athletes from around the world on this unified team,” said John Newnan, Team Captain for the Final Leg Team. “These athletes, along with their partners in law enforcement, 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 that we will visit during the 14 days of the Final Leg event. We draw our strength, inspiration and motivation from the athletes and are proud to be a part of a movement called the Law Enforcement Torch Run that is the largest grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics worldwide.”

For more details and to see the route map, visit www.LETR-FinalLeg.org.

The World Games will be hosted for nine days from July 25-August 2 and feature 25 Olympic-type sports: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Half Marathon, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Open Water Swimming, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Sailing, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, and Beach Volleyball. These Games will showcase the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities – the largest disability population in the world.

The Opening Ceremony will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, July 25, 2015 and will be televised to a worldwide audience by ESPN. To learn more, visit LA2015.org. For volunteer information, including becoming a Fan in the Stands, visit LA2015.org/volunteer/fans-in-the-stands.

About the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 (LA2015)

With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – being staged in Los Angeles July 25 – August 2, 2015 – will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators.

On April 30, 2014, LA2015 and ESPN announced a global programming deal that will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts. Current Founding Champions and sponsors include The Coca-Cola Company, Mattel, Deloitte, Toyota, Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, OUE Skyspace Los Angeles, Davis Elen Advertising, Microsoft, Toys“R”Us, The Walt Disney Company, Google, UPS, Los Angeles Times, AMC Theaters, La Opinión, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, WWE, AEG, Annenberg Foundation, David Geffen, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Panda Express, and Knights of Columbus. LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee, is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org and on social with #ReachUpLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.

Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance.  Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries.  With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year.

Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys”R”Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group.  Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

About Law Enforcement Torch Run

The Law Enforcement Torch Run began 34 years ago with founder Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, and five law enforcement officers carrying the torch for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita. The LETR has since evolved to a volunteer partnership with Special Olympics to champion acceptance and inclusion.  It has become a worldwide community of law enforcement officers rallying to support Special Olympics, the impetus for millions of new friendships around the world, and a series of events including Torch Runs, Polar Plunge fundraisers, and Tip-A-Cop® events.  The LETR is the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics with more than 100,000 law enforcement participants around the world.  It was announced at the 2014 LETR conference that the LETR has raised a cumulative sum of a half billion dollars since its inception in 1981 and more than $50.3 million in 2013 for Special Olympics athletes. Visit LETR.org for more information.

About the 2015 Los Angeles Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg

The Final Leg tradition is for law enforcement officers, representing their country, state and Torch Run Program, to act as “Guardians of the Flame” and carry the Special Olympics Torch and “Flame of Hope” to the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games. This Torch Run event is called the Final Leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the World.

The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the World who will compete in the Special Olympics World Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers who comprise the Torch Run Final Leg Team.  The Olympic flame symbolizes the light of spirit, knowledge and life. With identical power and majesty, the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope,” in the entrusted care of the law enforcement community, symbolizes the courage and celebration of diversity that the Special Olympics movement represents.

The 2015 Final Leg will precede the Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles, California.  The Flame Arrival Ceremony is scheduled for the state capitol in Sacramento, California on Monday, 13 July.  The flame will then travel throughout the state before reaching the Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles on 25 July.  The mission of the Final Leg is to create awareness and excitement for Special Olympics, support and attendance of the World Games, and involve, inspire and motivate runners to increase their level of commitment to Special Olympics when they return to their local Programs.  The Final Leg Team (126 members strong) is comprised of law enforcement runners, Special Olympics athletes, and Logistics Team members from 48 states and  23 countries around the world representing 79 Torch Run programs.  Final Leg runners were chosen for their dedication and commitment to the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics by their respective Torch Run Programs throughout the world. For more information on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2015 World Games, please contact Final Leg Committee Chairman and Team Captain John Newnan at[email protected]

About the author

Jane Emery