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2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games 'Flame of Hope' Arrives in U.S. on Global Journey to Shanghai, China

2007-07-27 08:37 1059

-- At White House ceremony, President and Mrs. Bush welcome Special

Olympics athletes, law enforcement personnel, Chinese government

officials and DHL, Official Global Partner of the Law Enforcement

Torch Run for the 2007 Games

WASHINGTON, July 27 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The Flame of Hope(TM) for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games arrived in Washington, D.C., where it was officially greeted by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in a White House ceremony. The flame was then carried through the streets of the nation's capital by a team of Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement personnel to begin the U.S. segment of the global Law Enforcement Torch Run(R) event. The event took place on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

(Logo: http://www.prnasia.com/sa/200611161203-min.jpg )

The Flame of Hope's arrival in Washington, D.C, the fourth stop of its 22,000-mile journey across the world, was facilitated by DHL, the world's largest express delivery and logistics company. The global Law Enforcement Torch Run honors the spirit of the Special Olympics movement and the courage of its athletes and is a signature event leading up to the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games which take place from 2-11 October in Shanghai, China.

"This Flame of Hope symbolizes the hopes of millions. I am proud to salute this special group of athletes-Team USA. I have long been a friend of Special Olympics and I have been inspired by the courage and determination of our athletes. The promise of this country belongs to every citizen and we are proud Special Olympics began right here in America," said President Bush.

"The Flame of Hope has come a great distance and so have we in our 39-year history -- every day 2.5 million Special Olympics athletes around the world compete to be their best," said Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International. "This is not a movement of pity or sadness, this is a movement of hope and this flame is a symbol of that hope. Today's event at the White House is historic for our movement and a tribute to the courage and dedication of our athletes."

Following the White House ceremony, the Law Enforcement Torch Run(R) event itself took place over a seven-mile route through the city, passing the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, concluding at the Embassy for the People's Republic of China.

"The law enforcement community is committed and honored to support Special Olympics at every opportunity, and the partnership we have had with Special Olympics for 26 years has truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of Special Olympics athletes," said Major Michael Teem, an officer with the Raleigh, North Carolina Police Department and chair of the Law Enforcement Torch Run Executive Council. "We are excited to be a part of the events in Washington, D.C. and continuing our role as guardians of the Flame of Hope."

The Flame of Hope(TM) torch was lit on 29 June at a ceremony at the sacred site of Pnyx near the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, marking the start of a global journey to the site of the World Games in Shanghai, China. The transportation of the flame was supported by the logistics expertise of DHL, the Official Transporter of the Flame of Hope for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

"Sponsoring and supporting the global Law Enforcement Torch Run for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games provides DHL with a unique opportunity to leverage the resources of its network provide the flexible and creative logistics solutions," said Hans Hickler, CEO, DHL Express, USA. "Engineering a solution to transport the flame has not only promoted our customer-responsive culture at DHL, it provides a wonderful opportunity for DHL to demonstrate that we are a socially responsible business leader caring about important initiatives like Special Olympics."

While the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been a Special Olympics tradition for more than 25 years, this marks the first time the Flame of Hope has traveled the globe in a single event. Transported via DHL's global logistics network and then carried by torch on the ground by teams of athletes and law enforcement personnel from around the world, the flame will eventually travel across five continents before arriving in Shanghai, where it will ignite the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics 2007 World Summer Games on 2 October.

The flame will next make its way to Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney. The final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run will include stops in Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, and 11 cities in China as well as the 19 districts of Shanghai, where it will be carried by more than 200 law enforcement officers from around the world.

The 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai will host almost 7,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from more than 160 countries and territories.

Following the 2007 World Games, the "Flame of Hope" will reside at a DHL facility as a tribute to Special Olympics athletes. DHL will also sponsor the global Law Enforcement Torch Run in 2009, when the Flame of Hope will again be lit in Athens and transported by DHL to the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, USA.

The Olympic torch was lit in Athens for the first time in 1896, and today continues to serve as a symbol of strength and determination for athletes from around the world. Special Olympics recently announced its 2011 World Summer Games will be held in Athens.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to 2.5 million adults and children with intellectual disabilities across 165 countries and territories. The Special Olympics movement offers one of the world's greatest platforms for acceptance and inclusion for all people-regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or cultural differences. Find out how you can become involved at www.specialolympics.org.

About the Law Enforcement Torch Run

The Law Enforcement Torch Run has been a Special Olympics tradition for more than 25 years. It began in 1981 when Wichita, Kansas, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw a need to raise funds and increase awareness for the organization, and conceived the Torch Run as a way to involve local law enforcement personnel in the community and to support Special Olympics Kansas. The program was later adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and under their support and leadership has expanded into all 50 U.S. states and to 35 nations and territories. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is Special Olympics' largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle; more than 85,000 law enforcement officers from around the world volunteer for the movement.

About DHL

DHL is the global market leader of the international express and logistics industry, specializing in providing innovative and customized solutions from a single source. DHL offers expertise in express, air and ocean freight, overland transport, and contract logistic solutions as well as international mail services, combined with worldwide coverage and an in-depth understanding of local markets. DHL's international network links more than 225 countries and territories worldwide with over 300,000 employees dedicated to providing fast and reliable services that exceed customers' expectations. DHL is a Deutsche Post World Net brand. The group generated revenues of more than EUR 60 billion in 2006. For more information on DHL, please visit http://www.dhl.com .

Source: Special Olympics
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