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Special Olympics Torch Lights Up the Town

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Special Olympics Final Leg torch bearers run through downtown Laguna Beach on Monday.

Special Olympics Final Leg torch bearers run through downtown Laguna Beach on Monday.

A relay team of more than 40 people bearing a torch lit in Athens made its way through a mile of Laguna Beach on Monday.

The runners – four athletes and 37 law enforcement personnel drawn from all points — received a warm reception from Mayor Bob Whalen and police Chief Laura Farinella on the lawn of City Hall.

Relay teams have held the flame aloft for 46 days since it arrived on the east coast after

Police Chief Laura Farinella and Mayor Bob Whalen greet the torch runners.

Police Chief Laura Farinella and Mayor Bob Whalen greet the torch runner at City Hall.

leaving Greece, spokeswoman Tory Rivers said.

The relay teams set out in California on July 10 and are now hop-scotching across California en route to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Special Olympics is set to open on Saturday.

Team members hail from as far as New Zealand and France. Their participation is partly underwritten by the Special Olympics, but mostly supported by their home agencies, said Joanne Wild, a sergeant with the Vancouver police, taking part in her 20th Special Olympic torch run. After taking a breather in Laguna, the team would go on to complete three more runs Monday, July 20, in Newport, Huntington and Seal Beach.

Law enforcement, which has raised $500 million since 1981 for the cause, is the Special Olympic’s largest grassroots funder, Rivers said.

Wild said the torch run fans awareness about the games, which will feature competitions in aquatics, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, football (soccer) and many other summer sports involving 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from around the world.

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About the Author
The author is the editor of the Laguna Beach Independent. Prior to taking the job in 2005, she worked previously as a reporter at five daily newspapers, including the Daily Pilot in Costa Mesa, the Daily News of Los Angeles and the New York Times. Reach her by emailing [email protected]

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