Flame of Hope Torch Lighting for the Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games in Athens to Happen this Thursday at Traditional Ceremony

June 07, 2011

For Immediate Release

ATHENS, GREECE — On this Thursday, 9 June at 10:00 am (Athens time), the Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games in Athens will be lit during a formal torch lighting ceremony.  In keeping with tradition, this ceremony will take place along the lines of the original torch lighting of the Olympics, at the Sacred Sight of Pnyx, opposite the Acropolis in Athens, Greece where the flame will be lit by the sun's rays.  The lighting of this flame will formally launch the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) Final Leg that precedes Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games Athens, that will begin just 16 days after this ceremonial lighting with an official Opening Ceremony on 25 June.  This lighting ceremony will begin a journey of the Flame of Hope across all of Greece, as well as Turkey and Cyprus, before returning to Athens to begin the Games.

Thursday’s torch lighting ceremony will be presided over by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Dr. Karolos Papoulias.  Addresses will also be given by:
•Οn behalf of the Hellenic Government, the Alternate Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. Telemachos Hitiris
•The President of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr. Filippos Petsalnikos
•The Deputy Minister of Health & Social Solidarity, Mr. Christos Aidonis
•The Mayor of Athens, Μr. George Kaminis
•The Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, Dr. Timothy P. Shriver

Following the flame lighting ceremony, the Final Leg team will carry the Flame of Hope in front of such iconic historical sites as the Acropolis, the Herodeios Theatre, the Museum of Acropolis, the Parliament and the Presidential Palace.

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  Istanbul and Cyprus.  Information about the Final Leg Team can be found here. 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.

Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games Athens 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.

For more information on Special Olympics 2011 World Summer Games Athens, visit the Games official website at www.athens2011.org or follow the Games at:
•www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsWorldGames
•www.twitter.com/Athens_2011
•www.youtube.com/Athens2011

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

About the Law Enforcement Torch Run
Celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) for Special Olympics is the movement's largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle, encompassing a variety of events including Torch Runs, Polar Plunge® events and the World's Largest Truck Convoy® fundraisers.  More than 85,000 international law enforcement officers have carried the Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremonies of local and state/provincial Special Olympics competitions and Games, and Special Olympics World Summer or Winter Games.  The LETR is now present in all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces and 46 nations around the world.  In 2010 the LETR raised more than US$38 million for Special Olympics Programs around the world and has raised more than US$370 million since its inception in 1981.

Media Contact:
Mandy Murphy
Special Olympics 
+1 (202) 824-0227     
mamurphy@specialolympics.org

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