Photo courtesy Special Olympics International.
Photo courtesy Special Olympics International.

Torches carrying a flame lit in Athens, Greece, will be passed through the hands of 20,000 people on the way to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, organizers said Tuesday.

The Unified Relay torch run from May 26 to July 10 is a first for the Special Olympics, which is expected to attract 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from more than 170 countries. The nine-day athletic competition will kick off with an opening ceremony on July 25.

The flame will be passed by volunteers, celebrities and community leaders through all 50 states. The 46-day relay will follow three separate routes beginning in Augusta, Maine, Miami and Washington, D.C., and eventually converging on Los Angeles.

Co-captains leading the relay include figure skater Michelle Kwan, football player Joe Haden, television host Maria Menounos and singer Aloe Blacc.

The torches will make stops at California towns serving as hosts for activities encouraging cultural exchanges prior to the games.

The final leg in Los Angeles will be led by law enforcement officers from 36 countries and 10 Special Olympics athletes.

To sign-up for the race, visit

The Special Olympics partnered with Bank of America to organize the torch run.

City News Service

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