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Special Olympics Idaho Invites Gem State Residents to Carry Torch, Support Cause


In what the organization calls a "once in a lifetime opportunity," Special Olympics Idaho is reaching out to Gem State residents, inviting them to help assist a nationwide relay, escorting the torch toward the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, which open Saturday, July 25. The torch arrives at the eastern Idaho border on Friday, June 26, and needs plenty of assistance to make its way to Idaho's western border by Sunday, June 28.

Every two years, the "Flame of Hope" is ceremoniously lit by the sun's rays in Pnyx, Greece, beginning the journey to the host nation of the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, the flame is being "split" into three torches in order to cross through all 50 U.S. states. Idaho is on the northern route, while similar flames make their way through the central and southern U.S. More than 20,000 runners, walkers and cyclists are expected to participate in the U.S. relay.

“We figured, ‘Why not run through all 50 states to spread even more awareness for the cause?’” said Laurie La Follette, Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Idaho.

The torch relay is set to make its way through the Treasure Valley on Saturday, June 27, coinciding with Special Olympics Idaho’s Round Up, the organization’s largest fund-raising event. The Round Up and torch arrival celebration will be held at the Special Olympics Idaho Headquarters on 52nd Street in Garden City. Tickets/donations are $50 per person. Other Idaho torch arrival ceremonies are scheduled along the route.

Organizers say the Unified Torch Relay is instrumental in raising awareness of the Special Olympics.

“It’s shocking to me that most people don’t know that Special Olympics Idaho has year-round events. They think it’s like the regular Olympics: every couple of years,”said  La Follette, “We hope that this event will raise awareness for our smaller programs.”

This year, two Idaho athletes will be part of Team USA at the Special Olympics World Games: Dillon Sanders, from Middleton, will be competing in track and field events and Olivia Kline, from New Plymouth, will be competing in the swimming competitions.

Shortly after the torch arrives in Southern California, the Special Olympics World Games’ opening ceremony will be held Saturday, July 25, in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.