AUGUSTA — Daniel Scott and Aiden Dunn each wore the bright red “Torchbearer” T-shirts as they eagerly awaited the start of the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America Torch Run that took off Tuesday morning from the grounds of the State House.

It was the first time Scott had participated, and the 29-year-old’s plan was to walk the early half-mile leg partnered with 10-year-old Aiden. Scott was dressed for the occasion with a sweatband on his forehead, pleased to be there, but unclear about why he was selected.

Scott was one of 30 people from Penobscot County participating in the torch run, Wendy Gilbert said.

“We have a very active management team and we asked them to join,” she said.

More than 100 people gathered on Tuesday morning between the State House and the Burton M. Cross State Office Building for the kickoff, hearing Gov. Paul LePage read a proclamation about the event.

“You will all gain skills, confidence and make connections, make friends and be part of your communities,” LePage said. “I am proud that Maine Special Olympics athletes will be representing us at the world games.”


As some of the athletes headed down the hill toward the starting line, a group of more than a dozen cheerleaders, in black-and-white uniforms with black-and-white pompoms, broke into a loud cheer urging a win.

Then they began clapping along as the Veayo Twins Trio offered rousing rock ‘n’ roll music to amp up the crowd.

Maine is one of three Eastern locations for the start of the runs that will carry the flame to Los Angeles for the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games. All the participants from Maine were welcomed by Phil Geelhoed, CEO of Special Olympics Maine, who said the events will lead to “empowering people with and without intellectual disabilities to play, work, live side by side, creating communities of acceptance and tolerance for all people.”

A handful of those athletes indicated they would be at the games in Los Angeles. Maine is sending two participants: Kelsey Tripp in aquatics and Scott Allen in golf. In all, 491 athletes will participate on Team USA.

On Tuesday, among the Mighty Motivator cheerleaders was Teri-Ann Drake, 32, of Eddington. She joined the other cheerleaders to pose in front of the State House entry. The group practices at Dedham School and performs at a number of Special Olympics events in Maine.

Another torch bearer, Krishtiana Morrow, 18, of Somerville, looked around the crowd seeking the other five members of her group from a Wiscasset school and wondering whether they had gotten lost on the way to the ceremony.


She wore bright pink sneakers in anticipation of her run. “I’m a little nervous,” she said.

Following opening ceremonies at the State House, the torch was carried through Augusta escorted by law enforcement officers known as “Guardians of the Flame.”

According to a news release from Justin Graeber for Bank of America, the corporate sponsor, more than 20,000 torchbearers will participate as the flames cross the country. The segments are in half-mile and five-mile legs.

More information about Special Olympics Maine is available on the organization’s website at

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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