From City News Service
LOS ANGELES — The Special Olympics Flame of Hope, which was carried in a torch relay across the United States by thousands of runners on three routes, arrived July 10 in downtown Los Angeles, where a cauldron was lit two weeks ahead of the Special Olympics World Games’ opening ceremony.
The flame had been on winding paths across the country since May 26, when torch relays began in Maine, Florida and Washington, D.C. The three relays moved through the Los Angeles area beginning in North Hollywood, Lakewood and La Habra.
The three routes converged at the Bank of America Plaza on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, where a ceremony was held to light the Special Olympics cauldron.
The ceremony included a host of dignitaries, including former California first lady Maria Shriver, founder of Special Olympics Southern California and former Olympian Rafer Johnson, Nancy O’Dell, actress Alison Sweeney, Jesse McCartney, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
The Special Olympics are “trying to promote the concept of play, asking people to reach out to someone with intellectual disabilities, learn about what it is and isn’t,” Shriver said.
Another celebration for the Flame of Hope was held prior to that night’s Dodgers game against the Milwaukee Brewers. During that event, the flame was passed to law enforcement, which will carry the torch across the state for the next two weeks in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, culminating at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the opening ceremony on June 25.