From Illinois Business Journal news services
A Collinsville resident is participating in the first Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America, presented by Bank of America.
On June 9, resident Dennis Hill will join local residents, Special Olympics supporters and fellow Bank of America employees in helping to carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope, as the torch makes a historic journey across America, on its way to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles on July 25.
Hill’s daughter Madeline, who is now 27 years old, has Down Syndrome and participated in Special Olympics for five years. The experience gave her much joy and built additional confidence in her capabilities, her father said. That self-confidence has been instrumental in her continued mental and social development. Hill said he and his family are so grateful for the wonderful experience that Special Olympics provided that he is honored to carry the Flame of Hope torch through St. Louis to support the organization and his daughter.
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 St. Louis, 505 torchbearers will participate. Following the relay, an evening celebration will begin at 4 p.m. at Busch Stadium Ballpark Village to welcome the Flame of Hope , including live entertainment, speakers including local St. Louis dignitaries and a Unified Whiffle Ball tournaments for athletes.
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 St. Louis are encouraging participation among individuals, families and businesses. A team of 15 Bank of America employees will be participating in the relay as well.
The Unified Relay will begin progressing through the St. Louis market on June 9 as it moves from Belleville into the downtown area. The relay will kick-off at the Missouri Athletic Club at 6:25 p.m. on Tuesday evening. On Thursday, June 11, the Relay will make its way from St. Louis to Creve Coeur and then onto Lake Chesterfield before making its way through the rest of the state. James Johnson (Wright City), Tyler Scott (St. Peters), Nick Short (St. Peters), Josh Spalding (Hazelwood) and Ronald Tetreault (O’Fallon) will represent Missouri on the Special Olympics USA team and compete in softball at the Special Olympics World Games this summer.
Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, more than 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 features three separate but simultaneous routes visiting all 50 states and is being led by celebrity and Special Olympics athlete co-captains. The Unified Relay began on May 26, taking routes starting in Augusta, Maine, Miami and Washington, D.C. All three routes will converge in Los Angeles on July 10.