Calif. - With the lushly covered San Jacinto mountains as a backdrop,
the 2004 Special Olympics summer season began in a very unique
way at Pechanga Resort & Casino. The resort hosted the Special
Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run opening ceremonies and
brought out hundreds of spectators and participants.
event began as Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro welcomed everyone
gathered. This included Special Olympics athletes, state elected
officials, members of law enforcement and fire departments and other
tribal leaders. Macarro then invited his brother John and Pechanga
Development Corporation member Patrick Murphy to the stage. The
three performed a series of traditional Pechanga birdsongs, which
are said to set a positive mood for the endeavor at hand.
Senator Dennis Hollingsworth then gave some words of encouragement
to the athletes and the runners. Clad in running gear, Anthony Miranda
of the Pechanga Development Corporation then approached the podium
and told the athletes what an honor it was to have the opportunity
to run with them, some of the hardest working athletes around. With
the help of the Pechanga tribal members in attendance, Miranda presented
a check for $7,500 to the Special Olympics.
was then time for the lighting of the torch and the ceremonial lap
to kick off the relay run. Miranda lit the Special Olympics torch
from the massive cauldron and was soon joined by dozens of Special
Olympics athletes ready to take the lap around the resort property.
Following Mirandas lead, the runners made their way around
the stage, out to the street, through the casino valet and back
around to the stage. Miranda passed the torch to Pechanga safety
officer and tribal member Dennis Carmichael for the start of the
16.2 mile run that was to wind through the city of Temecula.
Special Olympics festivities began May 22 with a fire truck pull
with teams from the Pechanga Fire Department and a tae kwon do board
break-a-thon. Over the course of the two-day event, organizers were
able to raise more than $40,000 for the charity that provides sports
training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for
Southern California children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
This provides them with opportunities to develop physical fitness,
demonstrate courage, experience joy and share their gifts, skills
and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes
and the community.
Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is the movements
largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle. In
2003 this international initiative raised more than $19 million
for Special Olympics. More than 85,000 law enforcement officers
around the world carried the "Flame of Hope" across 35
nations, raising awareness and funds for Special Olympics. At its
most basic level, the Torch Run is an actual running event in which
officers and athletes run the "Flame of Hope" to the Opening
Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial
Games, and National Summer or Winter Games.