Special Olympics to Unite the USA in the First-Ever Unified Relay Across America, Presented by Bank of America

The Flame of Hope will pass through Texas from June 19-30; Registration to carry the Torch through one of the 833 segments is now open.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2015



What:                                 

Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America

Who:                                   

ANYONE can be a torchbearer in the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. Over 20,000 participants expected to take part as torchbearers.

Where:               

Across the U.S – Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, torchbearers will run, bike, walk, rollerblade or roll a segment of the relay in this team and individual fundraising event. The Unified Relay will have three simultaneous routes, Northern, Central and Southern, and will pass through all 50 states. Click here for a listing of Texas cities the Torch will pass through.

When:                                

May 26 – July 10 (June 19-30 in Texas)

Why:                                    

Funds raised from the Unified Relay will go to Special Olympics to provide sports training, competition opportunities and additional programming that empowers people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.  

How:                   

Register as a team or individual at http://www.unifiedrelay.org/ 



MEDIA CONTACT:

Steve Helm – Public Relations Coordinator, Special Olympics Texas

800.876.5646, ext. 2925 (office); 267.421.3911 (cell – media only); shelm@sotx.org


SPECIAL OLYMPICS TO UNITE THE USA IN THE FIRST-EVER UNIFIED RELAY ACROSS AMERICA, PRESENTED BY BANK OF AMERICA

The Flame of Hope will pass through Texas from June 19-30; Registration to carry the Torch through one of the 833 segments is now open. 

ESPN and ABC to Showcase Story of Historic Relay leading up to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games


Washington, D.C. – Special Olympics and Michelle Kwan announced today on ABC’s Good Morning America that registration has opened for the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America, presented by Bank of America. The Unified Relay will give anyone in the country a chance to carry the Flame of Hope that will be lit in Athens, Greece and help deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games – now only six months away. Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, over 20,000 participants will run, walk or bike a segment of the relay in this team and individual fundraising event as it passes through all 50 states. 

From the time the Flame of Hope enters Texas on Friday, June 19 in Groves, it will be passed along 833 segments until its trek through the Lone Star State concludes a week later (Friday, June 26) in Amarillo. See the complete Texas schedule below. [Click here to register for a segment in Texas]

 

The relay will culminate at the Opening Ceremony of the Los Angeles 2015 Special Olympics World Games on July 25, 2015. ESPN, the official broadcaster of the World Games, will produce the Opening Ceremony live as well as a nightly highlights program throughout the nine-day event.  

“In a time when there is so much dividing people, our World Games offer an opportunity for our nation to come together to celebrate differences and unify in the spirit of respect and inclusion,” said Special Olympics CEO Janet Froetscher.  “With so many people coming to the U.S. for the World Games, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for every citizen to carry the Flame of Hope through their communities where it will light the caldron that burns during the Games. As the torch makes its way across our country it will bring us together in a unique way that will open hearts and minds.”  

The U.S. portion of the Unified Relay will begin on May 26, where it will be split into three simultaneous routes starting in Augusta, Maine; Miami, Florida; and Washington, D.C. Traveling west, all three routes will become unified in Los Angeles on July 10. Along each route, welcoming ceremonies and community celebrations will take place nightly with musical performances, celebrity guests and Unified Sports Experiences. 

In its role as presenting sponsor, Bank of America will provide significant financial and volunteer support to the Unified Relay. In addition, the company will use its deep connections in local communities to encourage participation among individuals, families and businesses. 

“By putting our scale and resources behind the Unified Relay, we’ll help bring a message of unity and inclusion to an incredibly large audience, and hopefully break some fundraising records along the way,” said Anne Finucane, Bank of America global chief strategy and marketing officer and a member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors. 

When the three relays arrive in Los Angeles, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team, comprised of law enforcement officers representing 36 countries, along with 10 Special Olympics athletes, will accept the torches and continue the Flame of Hope’s journey to communities throughout California, including Host Towns where Special Olympics World Games delegations from more than 170 countries will participate in pre-Games cultural exchanges.

 

Each Unified Relay route will be led by a group of co-captains, including media personalities, actors, musicians, athletes and Special Olympics athletes.  Co-captains will serve as spokespeople for the Special Olympics movement and the Unified Relay, encouraging participation through registration, fundraising and spectatorship. 

Special Olympics today announced the following as Unified Relay co-captains:  Damian Lillard, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional basketball star, Elena Delle Donne, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional basketball star, Joe Haden, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional football star, Maria Menounos, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and journalist, Aloe Blacc, American singer and songwriter, Josh Turner, American singer and actor, Special Olympics North Carolina athlete Zach Commander, Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete Johanna Schoeneck and Special Olympics Iowa athlete Corey Leonard. 

“The flame of the torch is inspirational, in a way that few symbols can match. And I’m thrilled to be part of the announcement of what promises to be the greatest and biggest Torch Run in United States history,” said Michelle Kwan Olympic figure-skating legend, Special Olympics International Board Member and relay co-captain.  “A Run that will not only touch every state in the Union, every corner of this country but also engage and inspire every American.  The Unified Relay Across America is going to unify the entire world in one giant celebration of the spirit of Special Olympics.” 

Supporters will have the opportunity to run with the Flame of Hope by signing up as an individual torchbearer or as a team of torchbearers for a half-mile walk or run segment or a five-mile bike segment in an area of interest across the United States. Funds raised from the Unified Relay will go to Special Olympics to provide sports training, competition opportunities and additional programming that empowers people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Participants can find out more information and sign up for the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America at www.unifiedrelay.org. 

ESPN and ABC are the Official Media Partners of the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. ESPN is a long-time supporter of Special Olympics and is also the Official Broadcaster of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Their local and national support of the Unified Relay will lead into the 25 July World Games Opening Ceremonies, televised on ESPN’s networks.  

Throughout the 46 days, ESPN and ABC media will tell the story of the relay across its multiple media platforms, covering and promoting each of the three routes as they cross the country. It will include national coverage on ESPN and ABC programs at select stops throughout the relay, local coverage on relevant ABC-owned stations and affiliates along the routes, a “torch tracker” and “Countdown to LA2015” clock on ESPN.com and select ABC digital media, and promotion across ESPN web sites and radio stations as well as ABC affiliate stations – letting people know when the torch is coming to their town and where they can go to support the torch bearers. 

Additionally, employees from ESPN and ABC will participate as torchbearers. 

“We are extremely proud of the relationship we have with Special Olympics Unified Sports, the Unified Relay Across America and the upcoming LA2015 World Games,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “We can’t wait to tell the many amazing stories of this relay and the Games this summer.” 

Additional corporate supporters of the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America include Microsoft, Toyota and Homeaway.

 Friday June 19th

Groves to Nederland (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Beaumont (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Beaumont (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM

Saturday June 20th

Beaumont to Baytown (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Baytown to Webster (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Clear Lake to Golfcrest (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Southeast Houston to South Central Houston (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Greater Third Ward to Houston (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Sunday June 21st

Houston to Fairbanks/Northwest Crossing (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Jersey Village to Katy (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Brookshire to Eastside (Blue): Betwen 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Harlandale to South San Antonio (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
San Antonio (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Monday June 22nd

San Antonio to Leon Valley (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Balcones Heights to Live Oaks (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Manchaca to Southeast Austin (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
South Congress to Tarry Town (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
West Campus to Austin (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Wednesday June 24th

Austin to Crestview (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
North Shoal Creek to Copperfield (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Wells Branch to Hewit (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Woodway to Waco (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM

Thursday June 25th

Waco to Red Oak (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Glenn Heights to Cedar Crest (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Pleasant Grove to Mesquite (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
South Dallas/Fair Park to Dallas (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Dallas (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Friday June 26th

Oaklawn to North East Dallas (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Garland to Northeast Carrollton (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Far North Dallas to Farmers Branch (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Arlington (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Forth Worth (Blue): Betweent 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Saturday June 27th

Fort Worth to Watauga (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Westover Hills (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Brentbrook (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Abilene (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Abilene (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Sunday June 28th

Abilene (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Abilene to Tye (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Station to Lubbock (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Lubbock (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Lubbock (Blue): Between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM

Monday June 29th

Lubbock (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Lubbock to Amarillo (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Amarillo (Blue): Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM
Amarillo (Blue): Between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM

Tuesday June 30th

Amarillo (Blue): Between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM
Amarillo (Blue): Between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM

 

About Special Olympics 

Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) is a privately funded non-profit organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect.  SOTX provides continuing opportunities for more than 54,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the Lone Star State to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship.  To learn more, visit www.specialolympicstexas.org or call 800.876.5646.  Engage with us on: Twitter @SOTexas; fb.com/SpecialOlympicsTX; youtube.com/specialolympicstexas.

 

About the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games

With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games - being staged in Los Angeles July 25 - August 2, 2015 - will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org and on social with #ReachUpLA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


About Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail banking offices and approximately 15,800 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. 

About The Walt Disney Company

Disney, together with its businesses and affiliates, including ESPN and ABC, have long supported the Special Olympics. Last year, Disney became a Founding Champion of the LA2015 World Games. Being a good corporate citizen is a time-honored Disney tradition. Through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteering, Disney helps to brighten the lives of kids and families in need and strengthen communities around the world. In 2013, the Company donated nearly $370 million in cash, in-kind support and products, and Disney VoluntEARS gave over 667,000 hours of service. For more information visit, thewaltdisneycompany.com/citizenship or twitter.com/disneycitizenship.

 

About ESPN

ESPN’s relationship with Special Olympics spans more than 30 years.  ESPN is the official media partner of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles -- bringing coverage of the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event — to millions of fans around the world. Additionally, in September 2013, Disney and ESPN announced a global two-year, multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment supporting the Special Olympics Unified Sports initiative, which leverages the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities. ESPN has been entertaining sports fans for nearly 35 years and strives to be a responsible corporate citizen. The corporate citizenship program of ESPN encompasses our multi-faceted community initiatives, including employee volunteerism, charitable giving and cause marketing, while also utilizing our diverse media assets. ESPN strives to have a positive impact on our employees, fans and communities worldwide.


About Disney | ABC Television Group

Disney | ABC Television Group is composed of The Walt Disney Company’s (NYSE: DIS)global entertainment and news television properties, cable networks, owned television stations, and radio stations. This includes ABC Entertainment Group, ABC News, ABC Owned Television Stations, Disney Channels Worldwide, and ABC Family, as well as Disney | ABC Domestic Television and Disney Media Distribution. With Disney | ABC Television Group programming reaching millions of viewers each week, the networks are ideal platforms to inspire viewers to drive positive change in their communities. Additionally, Disney | ABC employees across the globe continue to contribute their time and efforts to the local neighborhoods in which they work and live.  

 

   

Special Olympics Texas Year-Round Statewide Sponsors:
Coca-Cola Refreshments, Food Town, H-E-B Tournament of Champions,

Law Enforcement Torch Run and Walmart

# # #