WINNSBORO — Winnsboro’s Rotary Club showed its support for world peace during Tuesday’s weekly meeting when it hosted the United States team for Sir Chinmoy’s Oneness-Home Peace Run.
The Peace Run began in 1987 and is a global torch relay that symbolizes humanity’s universal aspiration for a more peaceful world. Originally from Bangladesh, Chinmoy died in 2007.
The Peace Run is one the largest and longest grassroots effort for peace, with the torch having visited more than 140 nations.
On the United States tour, a team of runners will travel 10,000 miles in four months across the country, Tijuana, Mexico, and parts of southern Canada. A single runner will cover eight to 10 miles per day, while holding the torch and as a team, they will cover anywhere from 80 to 100 miles per day.
The United States team is made up of nine members who will run approximately 10 miles per day.
The route began in New York City and now will move west across the country, up the California coast and then back east, traveling through northern states, Canada and the Midwest until the team’s scheduled arrival back in New York City on Aug. 15.
Beginning in New York on April 11, the runners worked their way south, through Charlotte, N.C., Rock Hill and into Winnsboro on Tuesday.
Team Leader Arpan DeAngelo is from New York and has completed 320 marathons (26.2 miles) as well as many other races.
Along their travels, the team will stop in various communities to share their stories with different civic and organizational groups.
“Any groups that are interested in sharing their service to the community about how to create better communities through peace initiatives, we welcome that and they welcome us,” DeAngelo said. “When kids see the torch, they get so excited and its so positive.”
The team showed an international video of previous and current races going on around the world in countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Kenya, Ireland and in South America, just to name a few.
The torch has been held by countless peace leaders including Nelson Mandela, the Dali Lama, Mother Tereasa, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali and Pope John Paul III.
All the runners are volunteers for Peace Run International, which is a non-profit organization.
The organization holds 500 races around the world every year ranging from a one-mile race to multi-day races and triathlons.
Runners on the team come from the United States, New Zealand, Russia, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Luxembourg.
DeAngelo said there is a Peace Run scheduled in the United States every two years.
“Its so exciting because people want us back,” he stated. “Along the way we meet as many people as we can.”
One runner reminisced some of her favorite memories on a previous Peace Run when she ran through Eastern Europe.
“It was absolutely amazing for me to see castles,” she said. “It was just so peaceful and majestic.”
Jennifer Cluck is team member from San Diego, Calif. and she generated an interest in the Peace Run when it visited her school in 1989.
Her family is in California and follows along with the team’s progress everyday on the organization’s website and blog.
“They can’t wait to see pictures from the previous day and they’re real supportive,” Cluck noted.
Cluck said her mom and sister are going to join the run from San Diego, Calif. and work their way up the coast.
New Zealand runner Harita Davies shared a moment from this year’s Peace Run tour, when she encountered a woman who began to pray for peace while holding the torch.
“There was so much sincerity (in her prayer) and she has just met me,” Davis recounted. “Those moments are really so touching. We really feel that the world is made up of individual people and each one of use can make a difference in the world. A hope, dream or prayer for peace really does count for something. Our greatest hope is that people can get a sense of empowerment from the torch and they can realize that they can make a difference and peace is a reality that will happen.”