Australia 29 May: Byron Bay, NSW - Casino, NSW
A full day and full hearts
The day began with running along the Byron Bay cafe strip with an enthusiastic group of onlookers sipping coffee.
Both teams made our way to St Finbar's Primary school, where we were greeted at 9am by Michael Cowley.
A grove of 4 trees especially selected for the nearby wetlands was the site of a tree plaque ceremony.
The team ran along some spectacular coast land and arrived in Ballina where we were given a very warm welcome and feed by the Balina Shire Council at 11am.
The Mayor, David Wright, was an old hand at the ceremony, as he was also at a previous Peace Run several years ago.
Accomplished athletes Alex and Myra Arrighi were presented with Peace Run Torch-Bearer Awards for services to the Ballina community.
Their involvement in many local community organisations, both sporting and service made them worthy recipients.
Ballina Shire planted a Cook Island Pine, a truly spectacular coastal tree, in the Pop Denison park, which is soon to be redevoloped into a community space and athletics precinct.
The boys team made the climb up to the (much higher altitude) Alstonville village, where we all met with the students of St Joseph's school.
For the week prior to the Peace Run arriving, the school had replaced the sound of the recess bell with a recording of Sri Chinmoy's Peace Run song, played in full! The bell, or, more correctly, the song, was heard many times during the day.
One of the longest serving Peace Run Coordinators in Australia is Animesh Harrington (pictured, with the boys team). Animesh organised the Closing Ceremony in Brisbane of the original Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run in 1987.
St Joseph's Primary has a special place in Animesh's heart as his sister Lyn Kenyon taught at the school. One student in particular was touched by the impact Mrs Kenyon had in his life and asked to meet her brother.
The staff have created a meditation space in Lyn's honour, called ‘The Lyn Kenyon Meditation Space’ since she instituted a daily meditation program for the children.
The whole team then ran to Lismore, where we met with the Year 10 students of Trinity College at 2.20pm.
Special guest at this meeting was Bishop Gregory Homeming OCD of the Lismore Diocese. Bishop Gregory was instrumental in helping the Lismore community recover from the recent devastating floods. He gave a simple, yet profound speech extolling the students to have peace in their own hearts before they could reach out and help others.