28th May 2019
Over 400 take part in the first ever Special Olympics Unified Mile
What a day!
As the sun shone on Sunday, May 26, 420 Special Olympic athletes, family members, volunteers and supporters from all across Great Britain took part in the first ever Special Olympics Unified Mile in what was a true celebration of unity and inclusion.
In partnership with London Marathon Events, the Vitality Westminster Mile offered Special Olympics a dedicated wave in the Mile as part of its commitment to highlighting social inclusion as a key message of the event.
And what a partnership it proved to be as the Vitality Westminster Mile set a new global record of 9,198 finishers in a timed mile event. What an achievement for the organisers!!
Before the race started, many of our runners and supporters gathered at the Special Olympics activation zone, as part of the Vitality Wellness Festival in Green Park. Several athletes and coaches from our World Games team and a group of our Athlete leaders ran various activities and led demonstrations throughout the day which proved a hit with young and old!
Jim Carter, Special Olympic Ambassador and star of TV drama and the highly anticipated film, Downton Abbey, generously spent all morning with us as he happily met lots of people and had his picture taken.
We were also delighted that Global CEO Mary Davis and President and Managing Director of Special Olympic Europe Eurasia, David Evangelista were able to fly in from the US and Spain for the event. Julie Ward, MEP, also ran on our behalf and we were honoured to have the Lord Mayor of Westminster welcoming and chatting to our athletes and their families ahead of the race.
As the time approached for our wave to get started and everyone gathered on The Mall, the Vitality Westminster Mile Mascots lined up in a guard of honour to high-five our athletes and supporters as they made their way to the start line. Long distance running legend, Sir Mo Farah was on hand inspiring athletes throughout the day and he spent time chatting and saying hi to some of our wheelchair participants and athletes at the front of the wave.
To start the race, Scottish Special Olympics athlete Lyn Dumbleton had the honour of joining Jim Carter as the pair waved a huge flag to get things underway.
Crowds gathered along the route to cheer the runners along, and it was wonderful to see hundreds of people with and without Intellectual Disabilities running, wheeling, walking, skipping and in one case dancing their way along the spectacular course, all dressed in their official red Special Olympics T-shirts.
As the runners made their way past Horse Guards Parade and along Birdcage Walk to the spectacular finish in front of Buckingham Palace, nobody seemed to worry about what time they’d made. Everyone just happy to finish and receive their goody bag and medal. It was a great way to end such a brilliant event.
Then it was all back to our activation zone in Green Park for more fun and a chance to score some goals, win some prizes and swing some golf clubs.
All in all, it was a fabulous day. Between the event itself, the number of people who made the effort to come and join us and support us, the volunteers working at the event and the gorgeous weather it was a brilliant display of unity and inclusion.
As Murton Mann, Chairman of Special Olympics Great Britain said, “Unified Sport works and Special Olympics GB transforms lives. The incredible Special Olympics Unified Mile in London today demonstrates that!”
Here’s to the next Unified event. And many thanks again for everyone who contributed!
If you’ve been inspired by what you’ve seen and read, there are many ways in which you can support the life-changing work of Special Olympics.
To view some pictures from the day please click HERE. More to follow soon.
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If you’d like to volunteer, please click HERE
If you’d like to find out more about the work of Special Olympics GB click HERE.