Swim Library

Special Olympics: Unified Relay


Hitting every state over 46 days, the relay will involve thousands carrying the Flame of Hope and lighting the way to a future of inclusion and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. ESPN and ABC will showcase the story of this historic relay leading up to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

From Athens to Los Angeles

Special Olympics and Olympic figure-skating legend 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.

The relay will culminate at the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles 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.

Individual and Teams Will Carry the Torch

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 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.

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.

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