The 2015 Special Olympics Flame of Hope was lit in Athens, Greece, and was carried all the way through 21 states before it was placed into the hands of Buckley resident Zeth Grover and the White River Unified Sports Team.
Grover and his team received the torch at 9:48 a.m. July 3, and carried it for a mile through Des Moines.
The torch then went on Los Angeles to open the 2015 Special Olympics on July 25.
“It was wonderful. I was very honored to be carrying the torch,” Grover said. “It was of course a team effort.”
Although Grover admits he is not an athlete or a “sports person,” he felt a huge sense of accomplishment and community as the torch went from team member to team member.
Not only was the team tasked with carrying the torch, but they also raised more than $1,500, which was the team’s fundraising goal for the event.
Because they met their goal, the team was able to keep the torch they carried, said Special Olympics coach Susan Root.
“To them, this was history,” she said. “They would never have this chance again.”
Grover was lucky it was this year his team got to carry the torch, because this is the year he is leaving, because of age, the White River Unified Sports program, which provides sports activities for disabled high school students.
But this won’t be the end of his participation with Unified Sports teams or working with other disabled students.
Grover said that he will begin volunteering at Glacier Middle School and another elementary school at the start of the school year to help other special-needs students.