"June 3rd Southern Route North Carolina Cushing"

The first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America will stop in Nashville beginning at 2:20 pm June, 7, 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.

Following the torch relay, there will be a community celebration at Vanderbilt University’s Kennedy Center at approximately 6:00pm, featuring live entertainment and special appearances from Special Olympics athletes, musicians and interactive activities for those in attendance. 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. Among the local torchbearers who will be participating are country music stars Kayla Adams, Denny Strickland, Jon Pardi, Lauren Alaina, and Eric Paslay.

“With so many people coming to the U.S. for the World Games, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for every citizen to carry the Flame of Hope through their communities where it will light the caldron that burns during the Games,” said Alan Bolick, president, Special Olympics Tennessee. “We are thrilled the torch is coming through Nashville and welcome all residents to join us in lighting the way to a future of inclusion.”

“By putting our support behind the Unified Relay, we’ll help bring a message of unity and inclusion to an incredibly large audience.” said John Stein, Tennessee state president, Bank of America. “Bank of America is proud to participate in the movement to mobilize and unify the nation while also bringing unprecedented awareness to Special Olympics in Nashville and beyond.”

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 Nashville are encouraging participation among individuals, families and businesses.

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.

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