BRATTLEBORO -- The World Harmony Run is coming to Brattleboro on Aug. 7 and 8 and bringing with it an emblem of peace, harmony and global unity.
The relay will be on its final leg and ends in New York City in the middle of August. The relay race ran through more than 100 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
"Definitely some Brattleboro locals will participate in the run," Vermont coordinator Akankha Perkins said. "Anyone can join in and run."
The World Harmony Run visits schools, youth groups, local youth organizations/centers to promote its work as well as the run itself. Roughly 50,000 children from 1,000 cities and towns across America are expected to join in.
The runners will reach Brattleboro on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at about 12:40 p.m. at the Living Memorial Park. They will be welcomed by folks from the Brattleboro Department of Recreation and Parks.
"Because they're coming from Bennington, anywhere along Route 9 they'll see one or two runners carrying the torch and one or two vehicles with the big logos on the side," Perkins said.
Anyone can join in the run and have a chance to carry the World Harmony Run torch, she said.
The first World Harmony Run happened in 1987. Since then more than five million people have held the Harmony Run torch. Sri Chinmoy inspired the World Harmony Run. Chinmoy spoke for peace and international harmony.
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She said that watching the team interact with children is one of the best things about the run.
"They are so wonderful with the children. They talk to the children about what peace and harmony means and get them involved."
Atulya Berube has worked for the World Harmony Run since he saw the opening ceremony in 1995.
"It struck me so deeply," he said. "I went to New York and worked on the run for two and a half months and ran for a month. In 1999 I worked as a U.S. coordinator."
Berube was born in Salem, Mass., raised in Florida, and is now living in San Diego.
"Every runner gets to carry the torch, even the runners who have just joined in," he said. "We believe that harmony believes in the heart of each individual; however, we find that we need to grow, nurture it, and share it just like we pass the torch."
Berube also said he loves meeting children along the route.
"They are the future and our best opportunity to bring about peace and harmony," he said, encouraging anyone to run or walk with the participants and get a chance to carry, or just hold, the torch.
This year marks the run's 25th anniversary. To honor this, Samuel Nirabadhi Wyatt, a Canadian mountain climber, carried the torch to the top of Mount Everest on May 19.
World figures have shown their support for the World Harmony Run over the years, including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
To learn more, visit www.worldharmonyrun.org.
Carleen Busick will be a senior at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the fall. She is a summer intern with the Reformer and lives in Wardsboro.