Press Release

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
1 Aviation Circle - Washington, DC 20001-6000 - (703) 417-8370 - Fax: (703) 417-8371

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Airports Authority Police Lieutenant To Participate In Special Olympics World Games

Airports Authority Police Lieutenant To Participate
In Special Olympics World Games

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Lieutenant Michelle Taylor was selected to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Dublin, Ireland this June.

Taylor, who has been raising funds and awareness for Special Olympic programs for the last eleven years, will represent all the Virginia Law Enforcement agencies involved in Special Olympics.

In the ancient Olympic tradition, the flame for the Special Olympics World Summer Games will be ignited by the rays of the sun, opposite the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The Final Leg tradition is for law enforcement officers representing their state, province or nation, to act as "Guardians of the Flame" and carry the Special Olympics "Flame of Hope" to the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games. The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the world who will compete in the Special Olympics World Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers.

Taylor will be assigned to a team and share the running duties with other law enforcement representatives from the United States as well as other countries. Taylor's team's journey will take her from Athens, Greece to Gibraltar, Nice/Monaco, Milan, Lausanne, Paris, Brussels, London, Belfast, and many other locations throughout the Republic of Ireland until they reach Dublin, Ireland and turn over the "Flame of Hope" to a Special Olympic Athlete, signaling the start of the World Games.

It is the first time that the Special Olympics World Summer Games are being held outside the United States. The Games will be the largest sporting event in the world for 2003 with 7,000 Special Olympic athletes with learning disabilities participating from around the world.

Taylor has been the coordinator of the Annual Dulles Day Family Festival, featuring the Plane Pull, to raise funds for Special Olympics Virginia. The event, in which teams compete in a tug of war contest against a Boeing 727 aircraft, has been replicated by other law enforcement agencies around the world. Local response to the event has exceeded expectations, from the very first Plane Pull eleven years ago, where 16 teams competed raising $12,000, 60 teams competed last year raising $114,000 for Special Olympics Virginia. This year's Plane Pull is scheduled for Saturday, September 20, 2003 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Special Olympics began in 1968 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver organized the First International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. The concept was born in the early 1960's when Shriver started a day camp for children with learning disabilities. She saw that people with learning disabilities were far more capable in sports and physical activities than many thought. Since 1968, millions of children and adults with learning disabilities have participated in Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is Special Olympics' largest grass-root fundraiser and public awareness vehicle. More than 85,000 law enforcement officers carried the "Flame of Hope" in 35 nations, raising awareness and funds for Special Olympics.