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​Carry the Flame of Hope!

This summer you can run, walk, skate or roll your way into Special Olympics history. For the first time ever, anyone can carry the Flame of Hope as it travels through all 50 states on its way to the World Games in Los Angeles, July 25-August 2.

The Flame of Hope, lit on Mt. Olympus in Athens, Greece, will serve as a global symbol representing inclusion and acceptance in all communities. Upon its arrival, the flame will split and be carried along three routes. The Central Route begins in Washington, D.C., on May 26, and for four days the route will weave through Virginia. Virginia routes include Annapolis, Maryland, to Alexandria on May 28; Alexandria to Richmond on May 29; Richmond to Charlottesville on May 30; and Charlottesville to Princeton, West Virginia on May 31.

Individuals and teams of up to 15 people are invited to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Individuals or teams must raise a minimum of $1000 to secure a segment. Participants have the choice of running, walking, jogging or skateboarding a 0.5 mile segment or biking a five-mile segment. Individuals and teams can choose between two types of segments. A regular segment will consist of urban and suburban routes; a premium segment will include a monument, historical park, city center or sports venue. Participants who choose a regular segment and raise $1500+ will be able to keep the torch they carried during their walk, jog, run or roll. Participants who take part in a premium segment and raise $2500+ will receive the torch they carried. If they raise an additional $1500, their team will receive a second torch.

Everyone is invited to join Special Olympics athlete co-captains and celebrities as they, along with 20,000 supporters, unite to make history. For more information about the Unified Relay or to register, visit www.unifiedrelay.org. To see specific information about the Virginia route, click the register button and select Virginia. For additional questions, please contact Roy Zeidman, Senior Vice President.

March Madness Special! Through the end of April, you can waive the $10 registration fee by using the March Madness promo code: MM.

Special thanks to freelance writer and volunteer Jamie McAllister for her help with this story.