Special Olympics’ Flame of Hope passes through Tampa Bay

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Winding through the streets and across the highways of Pinellas county, the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope” made its way to several law enforcement agencies on its more than 25-mile marathon journey from one end of the county to the other. And when the torch exchanged hands at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, Pinellas Park High School students across the street started cheering on the runners.

“Ladies and gentlemen we are reporting to you live from Pinellas Park High School telling you about the passing of the torch with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department,” said Pinellas Park senior Mike Nelson with the News Channel 8 mic in hand…

“This is my AP Bio Class and we came out here today to watch them pass the torch. And this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I think it’s a good thing to show our support for law enforcement in the community and do something positive with something we can’t learn inside,” said Makeba Phillip as he watched the torch pass by the high school.

Their run caused traffic jams and gridlock, but the officers lucky enough to carry the torch say it was an experience like non other.

“We are going to get out here and raise awareness and get on out here in the community and we are going to go north and we are glad to be out here today. It’s a privilege,” said Largo Police Department’s Joel Quattlebaum.

And in the crowd of bike riders was Special Olympian Robert Holmes. Holmes was on a mission to follow they torch on his bike from one end of Pinellas County to the other.

“The hole entire thing. From downtown St. Pete to Downtown Clearwater. Honestly it’s an experience like no other. I absolutely love what I am doing for Special Olympics,” Holmes said smiling on his bike as the team was getting ready to ride the next leg of the route.

Now that the “Flame of Hope” has made its way through Pinellas County, it will continue through the state of Florida on its 1500 mile journey.

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