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June 25, 2010 > Flame of Hope lights up Northern California

Flame of Hope lights up Northern California

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By William Mancebo

More than 500 federal, military, state, county and local law enforcement personnel have been carrying the Special Olympics' Flame of Hope through Northern California since June 14. On Friday, June 25 the light from these torches will reach UC Davis for opening ceremonies of the 2010 Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games.

"The law enforcement community, including the Fremont Police Department, has a long standing relationship with the Special Olympics," said Sgt. Chris Mazzone. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a world-wide, year-round fundraising campaign that raises more than $30 million annually for Special Olympics. Funds are raised through a variety of activities, including "Tip-A-Cop" events at various local restaurants. "So far this year, the Fremont Police Department has raised over $7,000 in donations for the Special Olympics, which go toward sponsoring local athletes to participate local, national, and international competitions," said Sgt. Mazzone.

Summer Games is the biggest event on the calendar for Special Olympics Northern California. More than 700 Special Olympic athletes from 32 Northern California counties will compete on the University of California Davis campus over the June 25-27 weekend. Four sports will be showcased - aquatics, bocce, tennis and track and field.

Special Olympics offers persons with developmental disabilities in Northern California an opportunity to participate in the summer games. "As one of the state's largest grassroots fundraising efforts, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has become the single largest supporter of Special Olympics Northern California, a free year-round sports program that serves almost 14,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities," said Vice President, Public Relations and Communications for Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada, Kirsten Cherry. "Since 1995, Northern California law enforcement has raised $9.3 million with the goal to raise $850,000 more in 2010. Every officer running the torch has earned the right to be a "Guardian of the Flame" by raising funds and awareness for Special Olympics."

Opening ceremonies will feature a parade of athletes led into Aggie Stadium by the UC Davis Aggie band. Athletes and their coaches will be welcomed by the "Wall of Honor" consisting of Law Enforcement personnel from all over Northern California who have raised funds and awareness for Special Olympics throughout the year. A special highlight his year will be a performance of the multi-cultural youth singing group, VOENA (Voices of Eve 'N Angels). VOENA has performed for Presidents Clinton and Bush in Washington D.C. through multiple invitations to the White House as well as Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome.

Opening ceremonies and the summer games are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of events visit

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