United States 12 July: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Peace Heroes

Larry Potash anchor of the morning news from WGN TV carries the Peace Torch to our team waiting outside as he proudly wears the Torch Bearer Award offered to him by Salil, the Executive Director of the Peace Run. Larry has been recognized for his achievements in broadcasting with eleven Emmy Awards for Best Anchor. The Peace Run Torch Bearer program has also honored him for his in depth stories about history, science, religion and other cultural themes.

Putu from Bali, Indonesia happily receives the Torch from Larry as the women's team starts a short run from the TV station.

WBEZ National Public Radio interviews some of the runners before the big event at the Austin Peace Tree and gardens. Salil Wilson, Executive Director of the Peace Run, offers a short interview before the Peace Walk gets underway.

Earnest Cato, Commander of the 015th District of the Chicago Police Department proudly holds the Peace Torch as he leads a Peace Walk to the gathering in this Austin neighborhood of south Chicago.

The South Shore Drill Team marches along behind the Peace Runners with a skillful display of flag twirling and dance.

Some of the younger children carry flags of various countries as they join the Peace Walk.

The drill team reaches the Ed Bailey and Leola Span Gardens and offers a display of their skillful artistry to the people gathered there.

Salil Wilson addresses the audience as he introduces the Peace Run and its goals.

The Peace Runners offer our official Peace Run song to the audience.

All the runners take a turn at introducing their name and country. Brahmata from Canada just joined us yesterday along with a few more new members of the team.

Commander Ernest Cato stands alongside out team as introductions are made.

Commander Cato offers his inspirational wisdom to the gathering, stressing the importance of community and involving the youth in meaningful activities.

Alderman Telleferro offers his support of this Austin Community and its various programs. He has hleped to raise money for the betterment of this garden especially, suporting the Green Team and they youth they employ.

Malcom Crawford oversees the Garden and has inspired many on the Green Team to turn this space into an inspiring place of peace and beauty.

Ed James (Sevak) speaks of the hard work that went into this garden community from the Green Team. Sevak also works tirelessly in some of the community projects such as Exodus, the youth drum and bugle corps.

Wanda Hopkinsof the Chicago Energy Council has inspired us with her words of wisdom and community service after receiving her Torch Bearer Award. Among her many accolades she has been an advocatte for Students Across Illinois, a special education specialist, and an advocate for seniors.

George Lawson, Vice-President of the Austin Green Team since 1987, the same year as the first Peace Run was instituted, and is now the current President. He received the Torch Bearer Award for his work in the improvement and beautification of the Austin community. He has also taken on many onther community service responsibilities over the years including the housing and banking needs of the Austin community. He is well known as the 'Labor of Love' in this community.

Pastor Charles Gordon of the Covenant Chapel Baptist Church and Loretta Hospital offers a prayer and blessing during the event today.

Minister Yvonne Townsend from the Prison Ministry, 100 Churches and CAP program. She has inspired thousands of people in the Chicago area over decades of selfless work and service to the community, especially to the prison community.

Kim L. Sorrells receives the Torch Bearer Award for her tireless work as a Deputy Public Defender for Public Affairs and Community Relations.

Butch Campbell's son Kenneth, accepts the award for his father. In 2015 he started the Peacemakers Coaltion program in Chicago and was its first President. Butch had dedicated 53 years of his life to being a social activist and will always be remembered for the many lives he touched.

The young rose bush recently dedicated to Butch Campbell.

Dr. Phalese Binion, President of the West Side Ministers Coalition, dedicating the Peace Tree to Reverend Flowers, former President of the coalition.

Pastor Charles Gordon offers his peace and prayers to the Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree dedicated to Reverend Flowers who had dedicated his life to the service and improvement of his community and the youth there.

We are very grateful to the honorees and youth for inspirational work they do to bring peace and safety to the Austin community and other districts in Chicago.

Two Peace Trees established in this garden remind us of the tremendous strides towards a more peaceful community that so many selfless people here have contributed to.

Pastor Clark received the Torch Bearer Award in 2016 and sings the traditional folk song 'A Change is gonna to Come.' His soulful contributions to this community is well appreciated as he is flanked by two good friends, Sevak and Arpan.

Posing for a photo in the newly cultivated gardens here in Austin with some of our new and old friends who made this significant event possible.

The gathering of concerned citizens, peace-lovers and peace-servers here had a chance to pass the Peace Torch around as they offered their goodwill, prayers and smiles.

Arpan shares the Peace Torch with Brother Kamu, a spiritual life coach who had offered an inspirational talk stressing the importance of love and peace in one's own life which will encourage self-improvement.

Enjoying the shade and peace of one of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Trees.

Nastia from Ukraine, our youngest member who just arrived here on the Peace Run, helps to clean up after the ceremony.

At lunch we met some very inspiring people involved in community development and peace programs.

We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal at the Soul Vegetarian Restaurant.

Ariel, the owner and manager, offered his cheerful service to us as well as the tasty and healthy food.

Ariel and his father, Prince Ariel Ben Israel, welcomed us like family as they spoke of the many restaurants they have opened all over the world in the name of healthy and peaceful living. Prince Israel has been on a spiritual mission since the 1960's offering his inspiration and service to many communities in need of food, shelter and spiritual guidance.

Our large team of hungry runners this afternoon enjoying the meal and the company of Ariel and Ben Israel, his son and wonderful cook.

Steve Washington, Director of Community Outreach for the South Shore Drill Team, welcomes us to their offices in South Chicago.

The South Shore Drill Team was started by the late Arthur Robinson in 1980 and has helped thousands of children of all ages to learn amazing skills and to get through high school and move on to useful and helpful careers in their communities.

Some of the current members of the South Shore Drill Team with current members of the North American Peace Run.

The Peace Runners offer our main theme song after our introductions to the drill team members.

The members offer their peace pledges as they hang them on the Peace Tree.

Passing the Peace Torch as they make their wishes for peace and harmony.

Some of the members here have been with the Drill Team for many years and even remember us from 6 years ago and the positive impact it has had on their lives.

Across the street from their headquarters and offices the South Shore Drill Team practices for their performances. We passed the Torch to some of the people there as we went to observe some of their practices.

Watching them practice was an inspiring moment for us.

A great group of very skilled individuals from ages 8 to 28.

In the evening we held a program for many nominees for the Peace Run Torch Bearer Award and others who came to share their own dreams and works for peace in their own communities here in Chicago. The Peace Run women's team welcomes everyone with some peace songs written by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.

Salil introduces the program and the Peace Run as he stands by a life size statue of Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run, holding the Peace Torch.

Our whole team sings our main Peace Run theme song to welcome our guests.

Watching some of the videos of various Peace Runs around the world. Since its inception in 1987 the Peace Run has been through 150 countries.

Jerome Altman, Co-Founder of Exodus, a Drum and Bugle Corps for the local youth, receives the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award from Sevak Ed James, a good friend and member of the Exodus staff.

Dr Vijay Prabhakar, MD., receives the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award for his distinction as the Health Commissioner and Director of the Wisconsin winnebago Nation and his outstanding work with the U.S. Public Health Service which awarded him with its highest award, 'Surgeon General Award of Excellence in 1993. He has many more accolades to his name over the decades of service to the communities in Chicago as well.

Alderman Pat Dowell of Chicago's 3rd Ward, right, receives our Torch Bearer Award for her tireless work at keeping Wentworth Gardens and its associated enrichment and employment programs thriving. She was nominated by Beatrice Harris here who also received our Torch Bearer Award as President of the LAC, or Local Advisory Council which works with the Wentworth Gardens program.

Beatrice Harris, President of the Local Advisory Council has helped the programs at Wentworth Gardens to flourish. She is well know for the love and care she puts into her tireless work for the community.

Mia Walker and Jawann Deloney, recieve the Torch Bearer Award on behalf of their father, the late Boyse Edwards. Mr. Edwards began organizing youth against violence inn the 1960's while still in high school. Among many other community oriented programs, Boyse worked with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and provided jobs and educational opportunities for gang members.

Dr, Prakasam Tata, originally from India, receives the Torch -Bearer Award for his many efforts in education, the environment and health related issues. He has assisted the poor and infirmed in both the U.S., in DuPage County, and in India as well. He has helped to tackle water scarcity and sanitation issues. In 2003 he founded a nonprofit organization, Bharathi Theertha, the 'Abode of the Goddess of Education and Knowledge.

Members of the Austin Green team who also received Peace Run Torch-Bearer Awards today. The Green Team has improved the environment and landscape of the Austin area of Chicago tremendously over the years and has also provided work opportunities for the youth there.

Ms. Kim Sorrells, Deputy Public Defender for Public Affairs and Community Relations received her award this afternoon and blessed us with her presence again her this evening.

Wanda Hopkins from the Chicago Energy Council also received her award this afternoon. We are so grateful she could come this evening with her daughter Mayah as they pose next to a statue of Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.

Offering our Gratitude songs to our illustrious guests and honorees who blessed us with their presence this evening.

Prakhara, our main public relations liaison, enjoying the company of our guests after the program.

Our two young Ukainian runners, Nastia and Kshema, enjoying a snack after the program here.

A reception of fine foods in the gift shop here allowed everyone to get to know each other better.

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Our wonderful and well-deserving honorees gather for a group photo. We are extremely grateful fot their presence here tonight and more importantly for their tireless work at bringing peace and opportunities to their communities in Chicago.