Special Olympics Torch Celebrations Light Up LA

The torch arrived in the city Friday ahead of the Special Olympics World Games launch on July 25.

Special Olympics World Games supporters celebrated the arrival of the Olympic torch in Los Angeles Friday after a more than monthlong international journey.

After the original torch was lit in Athens in May, three other torches were ignited in Maine, Florida and Washington, D.C. and carried across the country in the first-ever Special Olympics United Relay Across America.

Participants ran, biked and walked with the torch, known as the Flame of the Hope, across all 50 states before the three legs of the relay converged on Bank of America Plaza in downtown LA to light the Special Olympics cauldron Friday afternoon.

Special Olympics athletes, gold medal Olympians, and guests including Maria Menounos and Maria Shriver also appeared at the event.

"I've been in the Olympics since it started when Eunice Kennedy Shriver first had it started back in 1968," Jay White, a former Special Olympian, said at the event.

Coincidentally, the torch arrived in Los Angeles on Eunice Kennedy Shriver's birthday, and her daughter Maria was in attendance to help continue her mom's mission for the Special Olympics.

"We're trying to promote the concept of play," Shriver said. "Asking people to reach out to someone with an intellectual disability, learn about what it is and isn't."

Dodger Stadium hosted a second celebration Friday night ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers baseball game.

At the stadium, the Special Olympics torch was passed on to law enforcement members from around the country who will spend 13 days touring with the Flame of Hope through 120 cities and towns in California.

The relay will conclude July 25 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where guests including Jimmy Kimmel, Stevie Wonder and First Lady Michelle Obama will kick off the opening ceremony of the nine-day Special Olympics World Games.

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