LOS ANGELES (KABC) --The Special Olympics Flame of Hope arrived in the United States on Tuesday and will continue its 6,890 mile trip to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games.
The torch will arrive on July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to ignite the cauldron for the opening ceremony. It will be delivered during the final leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, with the help of a team consisting of 98 law enforcement runners and 10 Special Olympics athletes.
The LETR for the Special Olympics is the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness event in the world. More than 90,000 law enforcement members from all 50 states, 12 Canadian provinces and territories and 44 other countries contribute to the run annually.
The group was started 34 years ago by Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon and five law enforcement officers who were carrying the torch for the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games in Wichita.
"For more than 30 years the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been an integral part of the Special Olympics movement," said Patrick McClenahan, president and CEO of the Special Olympics World Games. "We look forward to seeing Californians cheering on the runners as they bring the world games message of acceptance and inclusion throughout the state."
The final leg of the run will take place from July 13 through July 25. The run will start in Sacramento and consist of three routes spanning 4,648 miles that will all merge in Los Angeles.
The 128-member team will serve as "Guardians of the Flame" and will run through 120 cities across California. The Special Olympics athletes who are part of the team were selected based on nominations received from around the world.
"These athletes, along with their partners in law enforcement, will tell their personal stories at over 119 ceremonies, helping to bring awareness, understanding and acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities to cities and towns throughout California that we will visit during the 14 days of the final leg event," said John Newnan, team captain for the Final Leg Team.
The Special Olympics World Games starts on July 25 and ends on Aug. 2. More than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be participating in the event, which features 25 Olympic-type sports. Anyone wishing to support the athletes may donate at abc7.com/specialolympics.