THOMPSON FALLS – Runners from around the world brought a message of goodwill through Thompson Falls on Friday afternoon as they ran part of their global relay for the World Harmony Run.
According to a press release announcing their coming to the area, World Harmony Run is “a 50-state torch relay…traveling the world to encourage goodwill, harmony and friendship. At the local level relay runs occur in some 100 nations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.” Their North American tour started in New York City April 12 and Thompson Falls was charted to be part of their return leg to New York City.
Mayor Carla Parks and members of the Thompson Falls Chamber of Commerce greeted the torch-bearing runners after they crossed the bridge and held a mini meet-and-greet.
“We welcome you to Thompson Falls,” Mayor Parks said. “I think your message of peace and harmony is a noble goal to run for.”
The team of 13 international runners began Friday morning in Idaho, and invited local area runners to join them on their journey through Thompson Falls and the surrounding area along Montana highway 200.
World Harmony Run runner Atulya Berube of San Francisco said he runs in the torch relay because he believes greatly in the cause.
“I believe that world harmony can happen,” Berube said. “When I see other people out there, running, and passing the torch one person at a time, one step at a time, you can see it happening. And passing the torch hand-to-hand is a symbol of that harmony. Rarely does a person not smile when they are handed the torch.”
Carrying the torch through Thompson Falls was local Dave Hedley, a Sanders County Sheriffs Office deputy. Hedley recently spear-headed the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics, and knows what it is to carry a message of hope despite the odds. He shared that his cancer returned and he has been put on hospice care, yet, he still ran with the torch.
“I figured ‘hey, I’ll get out here and support their run,’” Hedley said. “And make use of the time I left.”
Crowds of spectators and locals cheered and clapped the WHR runners and Hedley, who was also accompanied by other local runners.
Executive director of World Harmony Run, International Run, Salil Wilson was also on hand to speak with Thompson Falls officials on behalf of the organization.
“It’s very international,” Wilson said. “It’s 5,000 miles and we’re running with the message that peace and international friendship are possible. The best part is meeting the people along the way.”
Runners that participated Friday on rotation hailed from places such as New Zealand, New York City, Mexico, Czech Republic, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Canada, Russia, and Ukraine.
They each take turns in the run, while carrying the torch.
WHR references Carl Lewis, 9-time Olympic Gold-Medalist, who said, “By carrying the Torch, you will be bridging cultural and social barriers, and all the boundaries that separate nation from nation. You will be the living proof of the ancient vision of having a beautiful and harmonious world.”
The North American-U.S. portion of the global torch relay projects to complete its 4-month journey in mid-August in New York City.
As part of their routine for meet-and-greets through the various towns they run through, the team assembled for a song they performed for the representatives of Thompson Falls.
“Thank you for making our little community on highway 200 part of your journey,” Mayor Parks said. “We encourage you to come back and visit.”