Special Olympics’ Flame of Hope Burns Brightly in Thousand Oaks, Calabasas

Dozens of runners representing the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR) Final Leg for the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 made their way to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Friday afternoon amidst a crowd of cheering supporters. Holding the Flame of Hope aloft were athlete Nigel Davis and law enforcement officer Otis Stevens, both from Jamaica. This symbolic gesture is called the Final Leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the world.

“This is very exciting,” said Daiva Navarrette, honorary consulte of the Republic of Lithuania and a resident of Oak Park, who brought along her children to watch the festivities. “Our kids have never seen an Olympics or Special Olympics before.”

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Thousand Oaks Mayor Al Adams welcomes the crowd.

In April of last year, the City of Thousand Oaks was officially announced as participating in the Special Olympics World Games “Host Town” program from July 21 – 24. The City is one of a hundred Host Towns in Southern California that will welcome more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries before the games begin July 25. “For us to be a Host Town at this point is really an honor, and we’re looking forward to greeting all the athletes and coaches,” said Mayor Al Adams.

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Joel Price, mayor pro tem and Host Town organizer, introduces the speakers.

 

As a recently retired member of the law enforcement family, Mayor Pro Tem Joel Price, spokesperson for the local Host Town program, has been involved in the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run for more than 20 years. In addition, he was involved in the 1995 Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, CT, and said he was excited to learn the games were returning to the U.S. “I had originally hoped that Thousand Oaks could host some of the individual athletic events but when I made my initial contact with the organizers at LA2015, I was told that all event locations had already been determined,” he said. “My next question was, “are there any other opportunities to be involved?”

After being presented with the opportunity to host the athletes, Price said he has been working with the various public, private, non-profit and service clubs within the community ever since. “This opportunity will allow Thousand Oaks to be placed on the world stage as we host athletes and delegations from the countries of Mongolia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, San Marino and Tajikistan,” he said. “We want to showcase our city and all that it has to offer and show the world what wonderful people live, work and play here.”

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Special Olympics athlete Nigel Davis speaks about how meaningful the games are to him.

Those involved in the planning of the four-day program include the City of Thousand Oaks, Conejo Recreation and Park District, California Lutheran University, The Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Congress, Conejo Valley Unified School District, and a host of other service organizations within our community, said Price.

“We have a full and exciting calendar of events for the athletes from the time they arrive on Tuesday, July 21st until they leave us on Friday, July 24th,” Price said.

On July 22, the public is invited to attend a Community BBQ at Conejo Creek North Park with the delegations from 4:30-7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase. Click here to download the flier for additional information.

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The 2015 Law Enforcement Tourch Run Final Leg for Special Olympics in Calabasas, Friday, July 17. Photo: City of Calabasas website.

In Calabasas, the runners made their way to City Hall. “Calabasas is so proud to be part of the Special Olympics Torch Run journey and the excitement building in the world as the games approach,” said Mayor Lucy Martin in an email to CV Happening. “Being a host town for the Great Britain Special Olympics delegation is inspiring for our whole community and the torch run really adds to the circle of inclusion spirit. The Chamber of Commerce, the Lost Hills Sheriff Department and the City of Calabasas are looking forward to seeing our whole community out as the torch passes through.” 


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