United States 10 April: New York
Global Celebration and North American Launch
Ms. Nilima Silver, Programme Director, Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, opened the event introducing the Peace Run and welcomed all of the participants and Peace Runners.
This year the theme of the launch was Women in Peace - Celebrating Women's Contributions to the Culture of Peace.
Runners traveled from more than 50 countries to join in the celebration which also marked the launch of the North American Peace Run.
Following a moment of silence for peace Ms. Akbota Jumabayeva from Kazahkstan introduced Paree Atkin's international musical ensemble and choir who performed songs Sri Chinmoy composed for the Peace Run.
Ms. Lunthita Duthely of Florida invited our guests from the United Nations to come on stage and introduce themselves.
H.E. Ms. Ambroisine Kpongo, Permanent Representative of Central African Republic to the United Nations.
Ms. Regina Portilla, Advisor Political Affairs, from the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations.
Mr. Bruno Rizzi Razente, Ministry of External Relations, from the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations.
Mr. Elton Khoetage Hoeseb, Second Secretary, from the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the United Nations.
Mrs. Nataly Ursu-Moraru, Wife of Permanent Representative of Republic of Moldova to the United Nations.
Mr. Lok Bahadur Poudel Chhetri, Counsellor, from the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations
Gratitude to all of our guests from the Permanent Missions who are dedicating their lives to working in the international community and who uphold our hopes and dreams for world peace in their important work at the United Nations.
Ms. Stacey Marsh from Australia spoke about her experiences developing Peace Runs in small island nations in the South Pacific before inviting our Peace Runners to come up and introduce their countries.
Former United Nations staff member Mr. Adhiratha Keefe concluded the "Parade of Nations" with the United Nations flag.
Ms. Rijuta Tooker, long time Peace Run state coordinator, introduced the first of our special guests.
H.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under Secretary General and High Representative of the UN spoke eloquently and passionately about the importance of equality between women and men. He said, "I believe wholeheartedly that women's equality makes our planet safe and secure. It is my strong belief that unless women are engaged in advancing the culture of peace at equal levels at all times with men, sustainable peace will continue to elude us."
Ms. Harita Davies, originally from New Zealand, who has the responsibility for organizing the Peace Run in the United States, introduced our next guest.
Cathy spoke about our Torch-Bearer award program saying, "As we journey across the country and around the world invariably we come into contact with some remarkable people who have inspired their communities, their cities and nations through their own lives and deeds. The Torch-Bearer award has been presented to spiritual and human rights leader Desmond Tutu, Olympic Immortal Carl Lewis, Women's Rights Advocate Billie Jean King and many others."
Ms. Tegla Loroupe is a United Nations Ambassador of Sport and was also instrumental in bringing the first refugee team to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. Tegla has created a school with 450 students in Kenya as well as arranging Peace Races in her home region aimed at reconciling warring factions and encouraging warriors to give up their weapons.
Ms. Ranjana Ghose, President of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, offered the closing remarks thanking our speakers and special guests for their gracious participation as well as highlighting the need for humanity's continued search for peace and how each of us has a role to play.
Mr. Evgeny Uspenskiy, Vice Consul at Consulate General of the Russian Federation in New York, joins with the Russian Peace Runners.
The team was all smiles as they began the first 10 miles of what is a four-month long, 10,000 mile route taking in USA, Mexico and Canada.
Mr. Salil Wilson, Peace Run Executive Director, closed the ceremony and thanked the members of the international community for their deeply valued service in bringing to life the hopes and dreams for peace of millions around the world.