As London’s Special Olympics Unified Mile got underway, a group of 420 Special Olympics athletes, family members and supporters from across Great Britain (GB) were given the starting signal by Special Olympics athlete leader, Lyn Dumbleton and Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) Ambassador and well-known actor, Jim Carter. Legendary Olympian Mo Farah was also on hand to inspire the enthusiastic participants as they prepared to run, walk, wheel and skip across the start line.
Participants included Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, David Evangelista and SOGB CEO Michelle Carney. They couldn’t have asked for better weather than the bright London sunshine or a better setting than the iconic mile-long course from The Mall to Buckingham Palace!
In partnership with London Marathon Events, the Vitality Westminster Mile offered Special Olympics a dedicated time slot or ‘wave’ for our supporters to take part in the Mile, as part of its commitment to highlighting social inclusion as a key message of the event. The Special Olympics Unified Mile was kindly supported by Lions Clubs International.
Jim Carter, who is best known for his role as Carson in the award-winning TV drama and highly-anticipated film, Downton Abbey, not only officially started the Unified Mile but also walked the course alongside his friends from Special Olympics GB.
“Special Olympics GB is a wonderful movement helping people with Intellectual Disabilities. It’s a charity very close to my heart and it was an absolute pleasure to be involved. To witness the reaction of the crowds and the faces of everyone taking part at first hand was inspirational and I’m honoured to have been there.”
Michelle Carney, CEO SOGB added: “Huge thanks to London Marathon Events for giving us this opportunity to be part of this extraordinary day and for all their support in helping to spread the word about our important work. The pride I have for this organisation and our athletes is huge and on a day like today only makes me and the whole SOGB team even more determined to help transform the lives of more people living with an Intellectual disability.”
Apart from the Unified Mile, SOGB presented a range of activities—from football and mini-golf to a Fit 5 stand and Wheel of Fortune—at a dedicated zone throughout the day in the Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park. This buzzing family event was co-hosted by Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM) Ian Harper who interviewed medal-winning athletes fresh from the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi as well as Special Olympics supporters, friends and visitors throughout the day.