BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - On May 14, 2015, the Flame of Hope, the official torch for the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015, was lit at the Sacred Site of Pnyx, opposite the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, formally beginning its journey to the World Games.
In keeping with Olympic tradition and custom dating back to the Ancient Greeks, the torch will be lit by the sun's rays, and will remain lit until the end of the Games on August, 2.
Josh Norris of Blacksburg, Va., will serve as a Guardian of the Flame of Hope and participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg, the last journey of the flame throughout the state of California. Officials say Josh is one of 10 Special Olympic athletes worldwide to be selected for the 126 member Final Leg Team.
Since the official lighting, the flame has been making its journey to Los Angeles as part of the historic Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America.
The U.S. portion of the Unified Relay began on May 26 with it splitting into three simultaneous routes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. On May 31, the central route crossed through parts of southwest Virginia, including Blacksburg, where Josh and his brother, Ben, carried the Flame of Hope across the Virginia Tech campus.
When the three relays arrive in Los Angeles, the Flame of Hope will be handed over to the 2015 Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team, where it will travel for 17 days to more than 125 cities and towns throughout California, honoring the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and delivering a message of hope to communities where officials say people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion.
At each stop, the flame will be carried by teams of law enforcement personnel and Special Olympics athletes representing 48 states and 23 countries around the world, on a course allowing thousands of spectators to witness its important journey. There are three routes throughout California, Josh's route will travel through nearly 50 towns and cities, including across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and inside Disneyland.
Officials say Josh trains consistently throughout the year, participating in races and taking part in the Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run for the past eight years. When Josh has set his mind to something, he never quits and is determined to do the best he can, they say.
Community members will have an opportunity to congratulate Josh, as well meet other Special Olympics athletes, this Saturday, July 4th, at an event at the top of Kent Square in Blacksburg beginning at 5 pm. In addition to a live band and a view of the fireworks, food and drinks will be available. Josh and his brother, Ben, both Special Olympics Global Messengers, will also be speaking.
Community members can also donate support Josh in his final leg torch run by donating to his fundraising page here.
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