TEMECULA, Calif. -- With the lushly covered San Jacinto mountains as a
backdrop, the 2004 Special Olympics summer season began in a very unique
way at Pechanga Resort & Casino. The resort hosted the Special Olympics'
Law Enforcement Torch Run opening ceremonies and brought out hundreds of
spectators and participants.
The event began as Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro welcomed everyone
gathered, This included Special Olympics athletes, state elected officials,
members of law enforcement and fire departments and other tribal leaders.
Macarro then invited his brother John and Pechanga Development Corporation
member Patrick Murphy to the stage. The three performed a series of
traditional Pechanga birdsongs, which are said to set a positive mood for
the endeavor at hand.
State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth then gave some words of encouragement to
the athletes and the runners. Clad in running gear, Anthony Miranda of the
Pechanga Development Corporation then approached the podium and told the
athletes what an honor it was to have the opportunity to run with them,
some of the hardest working athletes around. With the help of the Pechanga
tribal members in attendance, Miranda presented a check for $7,500 to the
It was then time for the lighting of the torch and the ceremonial lap to
kick off the relay run. Miranda lit the Special Olympics torch from the
massive cauldron and was soon joined by dozens of Special Olympics athletes
ready to take the lap around the resort property. Following Miranda's lead,
the runners made their way around the stage, out to the street, through the
casino valet and back around to the stage. Miranda passed the torch to
Pechanga safety officer and tribal member Dennis Carmichael for the start
of the 16.2 mile run that was to wind through the city of Temecula.
The Special Olympics festivities began May 22 with a fire truck pull with
teams from the Pechanga Fire Department and a tae kwon do board
break-a-thon. Over the course of the two-day event, organizers were able to
raise more than $40,000 for the charity that provides sports training and
competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for Southern California
children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This provides them with
opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience
joy and share their gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other
Special Olympics athletes and the community.
The Law Enforcement Torch Run(r) for Special Olympics is the movement's
largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle. In 2003 this
international initiative raised more than $19 million for Special Olympics.
More than 85,000 law enforcement officers around the world carried the
"Flame of Hope" across 35 nations, raising awareness and funds for Special
Olympics. At its most basic level, the Torch Run is an actual running event
in which officers and athletes run the "Flame of Hope" to the Opening
Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games,
and National Summer or Winter Games.