ATLANTA, June 2, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America will stop in Atlanta on June 6, 2015. This historic event will bring together local residents and supporters in helping to carry the Flame of Hope, as the torch makes this journey across America to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles on July 25. The Unified Relay will unite the country, increase understanding and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities, and build communities of acceptance and inclusion along the way.
Thousands of participants across the United States are running, walking or biking a segment of the Unified Relay as it passes through all 50 states. In Atlanta, 22 teams of local torchbearers and runners will participate. Among them are Kayaker Will Crain and Football player Angel Morales, two metro area Special Olympics athletes who are participating in the World Summer Games. Former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn will be among the leaders joining Cheryl Lomax, Atlanta market manager, Bank of America, and other bank employees in the final segment of the race into Monument Grove at Turner Field.
"Our World Games offer an opportunity for the nation to come together to celebrate differences and unify in the spirit of respect and inclusion," said Georgia Milton-Sheats, chief executive officer, Special Olympics Georgia. "As the torch makes its way through Atlanta it will unite us in a unique way that will open hearts and minds."
"We are thrilled and excited about hosting the Special Olympics Unified Relay in Atlanta," said Geri Thomas, Georgia state president, Bank of America. "We extend a special 'thank you' to all the Special Olympics athletes, their families and Atlanta residents and leaders who are participating in this event."
On May 14, 2015, the Flame of Hope was lit by the rays of the sun during a ceremony conducted by High Priestesses with intellectual disabilities in Athens, Greece. The torch was then passed to the Guardians of the Flame, Law Enforcement officers from throughout the world who represent the Law Enforcement Torch Run. After the official lighting, the flame began its journey to the Special Olympics World Games and arrived in Washington, D.C., where the relay then split into three simultaneous routes starting in Augusta, Maine; Miami and Washington.
In its role as presenting sponsor, Bank of America is providing significant financial and volunteer support to the Unified Relay. Bank of America employees in Atlanta are encouraging participation among individuals, families and businesses. Following the relay, an evening celebration will begin at Monument Grove at Turner Field from 6 to 6:30 p.m. to welcome the Flame of Hope. The event will include live entertainment and interactive activities.
Participants and supporters can follow the Flame of Hope at www.unifiedrelay.org as it makes its way across the United States and donate to the Special Olympics by texting FLAME to 91999.
About the Unified Relay Across America
The Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America, is a once in a lifetime opportunity for America to unite to build communities of respect and inclusion. Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, over 20,000 participants throughout the nation will carry the torch, passing the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the country to help deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games. The Unified Relay will be three simultaneous routes visiting all 50 states and will be led by celebrity and Special Olympics athlete co-captains. The Unified Relay will begin on May 26, where it will be split into three simultaneous routes starting in Augusta, Maine; Miami, Florida; and Washington, D.C. Traveling west, all three routes will converge in Los Angeles on July 10. Along each route, welcoming ceremonies and community celebrations will take place with musical performances, celebrity guests and Special Olympics Unified Sports Experiences. The Unified Relay Across America is presented by Bank of America, and supported by official media partners ESPN and ABC, and national sponsors Citgo, Finish Line, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Microsoft, PR Nutrition, Toyota and Visa.
About Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail banking offices and approximately 15,800 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
SOURCE Special Olympics Georgia