Many Recognized for Their Efforts Auburn Hosts Special Olympics Torch Run Celebration
Auburn residents welcomed runners and walkers in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games Friday morning, July 16, under sunny skies and summerlike temperatures.
Volunteers of all ages were involved. It was 87˚ when the runners arrived at Legion Memorial Park. Before coming to Auburn, runners participated in events at Falls City.
Among the participants was Lloyd Cook, who celebrated his 73rd birthday Saturday, July 17. Cook said that he liked participating in the event.
After the Auburn High School Show Choir sang the national anthem, Auburn Police Chief Dan White fired the starter gun which started the runners down Highway 75 to the intersection of Highway 136 then to Bulldog Stadium at Auburn High School.
“It’s quite an honor to showcase Auburn. It took a lot of sponsors and volunteers to make this possible,” White said. He served as master of ceremonies for the program at the senior high school.
Rene’ Danley, Auburn Chamber of Commerce office manager, thanked all who attended. She recognized the committee, many of whom had worked on planning for the event since October 2009.
“We could have not done this without all of our sponsors and volunteers,” Danley said.
Besides Danley, others involved included White, Kendall Neiman, Sheriff Brent Lottman, Sonia Kistner, Mandi Noel and Amy Kroll.
“The Torch Run was an unprecedented success! And we could never have done it without your support! Thank you to everyone who tolerated the heat to participate in this event!” Danley said.
“To all the volunteers....you are amazing! I heard from many of you that you didn’t feel like you did much, but that is because so many turned out to help! Your commitment was not unnoticed!” she said.
State Senator Tony Fulton, 1990 Auburn High School graduate, returned to participate in the ceremony.
“Today, my heart overflows with noble words as I return home to Auburn. Auburn and its citizens have done much to improve the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities-through employment, community service and friendship,” Fulton said.
Besides touching residents of Falls City, Auburn, Tecumseh and Lincoln, the leg of the torch run included law enforcement officers, support team members and Special Olympics athletes from all parts of the United States, Fulton said.
“For the next several days, the nation will turn its attention to the heartland of America—Nebraska—to witness this great event: the Special Olympics. And this is, indeed, fitting, for it is from the heartland where this nation finds its greatest ethics and its most heroic virtue,” he said.
Fulton said that the Special Olympics, a great celebration of human dignity, united everyone.
“Here we find a common cause. We pause from our daily routines to look upon these persons who participate in the Special Olympics–they are inspiring to us,” Fulton said.
Sgt. Bernadette Bond of the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, a final leg law enforcement officer, said that she had a dream to become involved with Special Olympics. That dream came true seven years ago. Bond said that it was an honor to participate in the ceremony.
Michael Warren of Iowa, representing Team Special Olympics athletes, said that “it was amazing how Auburn (residents) welcomed us to town. You folks did a really good job of welcoming us to Auburn.”
Warren said that he has participated in Special Olympics 15 years. He said that he ran the five kilometer, 10 kilometer, 20 kilometer and half marathon. Warren said that he ran all last week in all corners of Nebraska. This was his first Torch Run.
“I’m having a lot of fun running around Nebraska, meeting a lot of people in different communities and having a great time,” Warren said.
Also involved in the ceremony was Auburn Mayor Bob Engles, Auburn Public Schools Board of Education President Beth Kernes-Krause, and members of Auburn American Legion Post 23 and William D. Harpham Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2635.
The runners left after the program to run to Tecumseh then to Lincoln. A barbecue and Special Olympic events concluded the Auburn celebration. The 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games continue through Friday, July 23, at various Lincoln sites. Closing ceremonies will be July 23 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.