DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Runners carrying the torch for the Special Olympics made a pit stop at the world famous Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday.
Law enforcement officers and athletes took part carrying the Flame of Hope around the 2.5 mile-track in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The Special Olympics USA games is being hosted in Orlando this year.
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“It was really incredible,” said David Rams, an athlete competing in track in the USA Games. “It’s amazing to be right on this Daytona racetrack. I’ve never done it. When we saw it on the brochure, I said, ‘This is the one that I’m really, really excited to do.”
The torch run started in Chicago, Illinois, where the Special Olympics was born. The flame has made stops in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Atlanta and several cities in Florida, including Daytona.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Frank Kelleher, Daytona International Speedway president. “I never thought in my life that I would be involved with an Olympic flame carrying opportunity, and here I am playing a very small role of really just greeting them and opening up the gates and feeling their energy and passion.”
The flame will make a stop at the Orlando City Hall Thursday. The runners will stop by Magic Kingdom, the Osceola County Courthouse, Orlando Health and the Oakland Town Square on Friday. On Saturday, the stops include Lake Eola, the Orlando Executive Airport and the final run at Exploria Stadium.
“We started the torch run about a week and a half ago,” Rams said. “We’ve been running, and now, we’re going to light up the Games, and I’m also competing in the Games. I’m really, really excited.”
The opening ceremony for the games is Sunday, June 5, at Exploria Stadium. The competitions will run June 6-11.