The Flame of Hope Returns to Athens

June 26, 2011

On the final day before the official start of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the Flame of Hope® arrived in Athens after visiting 146 towns and communities throughout Greece during the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR)®.

Torch Runners follow two police officers on motorcycles up to the top of the Acropolis

Special Olympics Board Members, Global Ambassadors, and International Global Messengers, along with a U.S. Presidential Delegation led by Dr. Jill Biden, gathered atop the Acropolis of Athens to celebrate the completion of the Flame’s journey through Greece.

The Torch Run team, comprised of 101 Law Enforcement Officers from around the world, 10 Special Olympics athletes, and other support personnel proudly shared the story of their journey and gathered to honor and thank the Games Organizing Committee Chairman, Joanna Despotopoulou, for her leadership and support of the Games. Despotopoulou was presented with the original Flame of Hope, which was lit June 9th in a ceremony held at the Sacred Sight of Pnyx in Athens.  She then entrusted it to the Presidential Guard who will keep it overnight, prior to Opening Ceremony.


Torch runners wave as they hold the flame.

Antonio L. Williams, an LETR running team leader and member of the Final Leg Executive Council, described his experience of the Torch Run as “Simply amazing. It was incredible to see people from all walks of life come together with one common goal of building communities, overcoming language barriers, gathering people together, and forming new relationships.”

Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Inc. and Special Olympics Board Member Muhtar Kent spoke of Coke’s proud role as the founding partner of Special Olympics. During the World Games, Coca-Cola will provide commemorative packaging and retail displays in their top five retailers in Greece, along with an awareness campaign featuring Coke employees and Special Olympics athletes that will be circulated through print, radio, online and television ads. Coke will give a portion of the proceeds from the sale of commemorative packaging to Special Olympics and will also construct a Coca-Cola Happiness House in athlete villages and at the OAKA festival area. In addition, the beverage company will provide over 2 million servings of Coca-Cola products to athletes, families and volunteers during the Games. “We are here to spread dignity, optimism and inclusion all around the world,” said Kent.


Joanna Despotoupoulou, Muhtar Kent, and Tim Shriver welcome torch runners at the acropolis

Special Olympics Chairman and CEO, Tim Shriver, introduced the newest class of Special Olympics International Global Messengers, who will serve a four-year term as leaders and spokespersons for the Special Olympics Movement. The newest class includes Neha Naik (India), Andy Miyares (USA), Zakaria Aquadim (Morocco), Caroline Verdenal (France), Anton Silos (Philippines), Kristina O’Neal (USA), Deon Namiseb (Namibia), Minmin Huang (China), Ariel Ary (Costa Rica), Olga Dasoura (Greece), Matthew Williams (Canada) and Wei Chieh Chen (Taiwan).

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, also greeted the new class of Global Messengers, along with basketball star and Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Yao Ming, and Special Olympics Board members and supporters, Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci.


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan