Finish Line Joins Unified Relay Across America
This post originally appeared on Sara McInerney’s blog. Thanks to Sara for allowing us to share her story. You can find the original post here.
A week ago, Finish Line had the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America (URAA). We carried the Flame of Hope on its way to Los Angeles for the World Games through 11 legs in Indianapolis. From sales associates to store operations to the CEO, Finish Line is on board to support Special Olympics.
When I was asked to participate, we still had room on our team so I immediately thought of my cousins Tim and Brianne and their kiddos, Patrick and Caitlin, who will hopefully be future athletes. Nick, the Special Olympics athlete on our leg, was really shy meeting our team but when Patrick and Caitlin arrived, he went over to the stroller and said hello no problem. Here he is “shaking” their hands. He held their hands for a few seconds each as his way of saying, “hello!”
Nick eventually warmed up and took a great picture with our entire group! Together, we raised twice of our original goal of $1,500 for a total of $3,665. The total raised by all Finish Line teams was more than $20,000!
Each leg was a half mile long and we were escorted by LA Police. No joke – Los Angeles police cars, SUVs and motorcycles drove all the way out to Maine at the beginning of the summer to escort the three legs across the country back to LA. Just seeing the LAPD logo gave me chills. People believe in the power of Special Olympics enough to drive across the country and back… incredible.
During our leg, each team member got a chance to carry the torch. Nick joined me during my torch hold which made it that much more special. I am glad I was joined by him rather than being alone at the beginning of our pack. Nick seemed to love the experience and would sprint ahead when he got really excited!
After my leg, a few of us went downtown to watch the torch come in for the night. The torch was nearly an hour late, but it was well worth the wait. When the final leg came around the corner, they were walking. But once they saw the huge crowd waiting for them, they jogged to the finish line while Avril Lavigne’s “Fly” was blaring. Avril is an avid Special Olympics supporter and wrote this song specifically for Special Olympics athletes. Take one listen and you’ll understand why I broke out in tears once they came around the corner and lit the final flame.
Along with a new job (I’m now the Finish Line Youth Foundation Development Coordinator), I also get to travel to LA in July to attend the World Games! I’m still shocked I get to go. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity I am really looking forward to.