“The Flame of Hope”for Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 stelontas MESSAGE “Disabilities are yet another manifestation of global diversity. Let us always be committed to the fundamental principles of dignity and equality for all human beings.” on 9 June 2011 in GREECE, Istanbul, and Cyprus.

“lame serves as beacon of inspiration during Law Enforcement Torch Run to World Games in Athens, Greece

On 9 June the Flame of Hope for Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 will be lit by the suns’ rays at the Sacred Site of Pnyx, opposite the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, formally launching the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) Final Leg.  The LETR Final Leg Team consists of an international team of 145 members which includes 101 Law Enforcement Officer runners, 10 Special Olympics athletes, and support personnel who will serve as Guardians of the Flame® as they run the Flame of Hope throughout Greece as well as visiting Istanbul and Cyprus.  To symbolize the significant contribution of law enforcement and the inclusion of Special Olympics athletes in this unified Torch Run, the Final Leg Team will conduct extensive runs and ceremonies in all of the Host Town Program communities and in many other towns throughout Greece to heighten awareness of Special Olympics and the World Games.

From 9 – 25 June the Flame of Hope will stop in over 100 cities and towns, honoring the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and delivering a message of hope to communities where people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and a chance to excel without barriers.  At each stop, the flame will be carried by teams of Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement personnel from around the world on a course allowing thousands of spectators to witness its important journey.  Along the routes, ceremonies will be held in every town visited by the Flame of Hope and Final Leg Team to pay tribute to the courage, dedication and achievements of Special Olympics athletes worldwide in sport and life.

During the journey, the flame will travel thousands of kilometers before returning to Athens, Greece where it will ignite the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the World Games on 25 June.

“The Flame of Hope’s journey is symbolic of our global mission to deliver inspiration and hope to Special Olympics athletes and their families, break down barriers to equality that still exist, and create awareness for social change worldwide,” said Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, who will participate in the official lighting ceremony in Greece on 9 June.  “We are fortunate to be able to deliver the flame and everything it stands for – hope, courage, opportunity, inspiration and equality – to our athletes because of the experience and expertise of our partners in law enforcement throughout the world.”

The flame will split and be carried along three historic routes.  One route will travel through Eastern Greece and visit Istanbul.  Another route will travel across Western Greece, the Ionian Islands and Peloponnese, passing through Ancient Olympia, the birth city of the Olympic Games.  The third route will travel through Cyprus and the Greek Isles. On 24 June all three final leg teams will be reunited in Athens. The Final Leg Team will deliver the Flame of Hope to the 2011 World Summer Games Opening Ceremony in Athens on 25 June.

Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 will host 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from nearly 180 countries from 25 June – 4 July.  During the 10-day event, athletes will compete in 22 Olympic-type sports including: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Sailing, Softball, Table Tennis, Tennis and Volleyball.

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