May 25, 2022 Live from the road

Chicago, Illinois

Reported by Arpan DeAngelo 7.0 mi

Our first Peace Run Ceremony for the day was at the Gad's Hill Center in Chicago.

Most of the children were being very careful with their health and wore masks while we were indoors. We always start with invoking peace in the 'heart.'

We introduce ourselves and where we are from by displaying a huge map of the world and giving the children clues to find it on the map.

The children enjoy singing with us as we teach them one of our Peace Run songs with actions for each line.

The children love our skits portraying peaceful or not so peaceful behaviors that they have to judge for themselves.

Then presented the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award to the Executive Director of Gad's Hill Center, Maricela Garcia.

Maricela, originally from Guatemala, has worked tirelessly for decades with children to help give them opportunities to get a good, safe education.

As a refuge from a dangerous environment as a child, Maricela learned the importance of providing a stable and nurturing environment for children, especially in their early years of learning.

Some of the children display this colorful painting on the theme of peace, by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.

We are so grateful to all the children and staff who participated here today at Gad's Hill.

Maricela Garcia gladly offers the children a chance to offer their hopes and wishes for peace as they share the Peace Torch upon leaving the school.

We are extremely grateful to Mrs. Garcia for inviting us to Gad's Hill and for all the dedication she has offered over the years, helping to create effective learning environments for children of all ages.

Later in the day we made our way to the South Chicago Cultural Center where Pradhan, Otis and others were busy setting up this wonderful Solarium room for a special Peace Run Torch-Bearer award function this evening.

They went all out to offer top quality food and beverages to the guests as they arrive to share this special evening with us.

Beautiful paintings and wonderful vistas from the large windows offered a peaceful and natural environment for this unique event.

Aditi offers everyone name tags as we check in so everyone can relate to each other on a personal name to name basis in a friendly and inspiring environment.

We are so grateful to Aditi from Chicago who always makes sure everything is organized well and we are well fed.

Prema Jackson, one of our Peace Run team members from San Francisco, was our brilliant Emcee.

Prema introduced the Peace Run to our guests and explained briefly the inspiration and vision of the Peace Run Founder, Sri Chinmoy, who created this event in 1987. He worked hard his whole life to share peace, inner and outer, with everyone he met and he felt that we all could do the same in our own unique and inspiring ways through initiatives involving faith, sports, art, music, education and service to our communities.

The world famous South Shore Drill Team then treated us all to an amazingly skillful opening performance before the award events started.

They thrilled us with their precision rifle stock and flag twirling talents.

Two of the most recent Torch-Bearer recipients were introduced first, to offer their inspiring thoughts and humble gratitude for being able to serve our youth throughout the years here in the Chicago area.
Maricela Garcia from Gad's Hill Center offers her inspiring thoughts on peace and service through education.

Steve Washington, who just received the Torch-Bearer Award two days ago as Director of the South Shore Drill Team, explains in his own humble way that he took on this role 12 years ago because he loves working with the youth and to help create a nurturing environment for their education and skill development, thus helping them to fulfill their potential as peaceful and caring citizens of the community. To him it is "not just a job, but an adventure". He is "proud to be part of positive change".

Our team member from Rhode Island, Virangini, introduces the first recipient of the Award tonight, Shemeka Nash. Shemeka is a music conductor, saxophonist and educator. She has been involved in music both as a performer and teacher for many decades.

Two of Shemeka's mentors from many years ago in the New Frontier Youth Group, Sevak James and Jerome Altman, are proud to see one of their former students achieve such meaningful and helpful success in the area of music and education.

Sukantika, one of our Peace Run Teams' main organizers in Chicago, introduces our next Torch-Bearer Award recipient, Carmen Benson.

Carmen is a member of the Local Advisory Council, working towards more security in the Wentworth Gardens area of Chicago. She has worked tirelessly to help create a peaceful and beautiful environment in her community.

Lashawn Ford, the State Representative in the 7th District of Illinois, expressed his appreciation for this award and for the other "symbols of peace", such as the Peace Trees which help to beautify his district for which he has been working hard to improve over the years.

Sevak, one of the organizers of this event and local member of the Peace Run Team, along with Rickey Williams of the Chicago Area Project, and David Whitaker are proud of Mr. Ford and grateful for all he has done to serve in their District here in Chicago.

State Senator Mattie Hunter is next to received the Torch-Bearer Award. Mattie has been involved in helping to legislate more than 400 bills for many important causes such as healthcare issues, fighting substance abuse, and environmental issues. She also has been involved in international issues in South Africa and other countries. She has been working hard as a member of the State Senate for over 20 years. She encourages people to stand out with their own uniqueness and to try new things, to be humble and active in serving others, of which she is a wonderful example.

Our four Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award recipients along with their proud colleagues, Ricky Williams and David Whitaker.

Harita Davies, one of the main organizers of the North American Peace Run and a very experienced ultra-marathoner, explains more about the Peace Run and its origins and asks each member to come up and introduce their country and their involvement in the Peace Run.

Our Peace Run Team members introduce themselves and offer a Peace Run song composed by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.

Pradhan Balter, a Peace Run team member and organizer in the local Chicago area, explains the Sri Chinmoy Peace Tree project which he has helped to create here in Chicago in the past decade. Since then there have been 39 trees planted in different locations which are dedicated to peace and to individuals who have worked to establish peace and harmony in their own communities. Over 30 more trees have been recently donated and are looking for new homes to inspire beauty and peace in Chicago.

Two short videos about the Peace Run on an international level delighted the audience. They displayed inspiring scenes of children and adults worldwide sharing peace with each other and offering creative and inspiring ways to help improve their own communities in peaceful and friendly ways.

As participants and friends were enjoying the treats made available as they were getting ready to leave, we enjoyed a musical performance by Denson Williams, who thrilled us with his masterful piano playing and even sang an inspiring song for us called , 'A Change is Gonna Come'.

We are grateful to Denson for offering us his inspiring music to make this event even more special and enjoyable.

Denson share his prayers and wishes for peace with the Peace Torch, as our good friend and one of the organizers of this event, Sevak Ed James, looks on.

George Owen, our dedicated videographer for tonight's event, offers his peaceful smile as he shares the Peace Torch. We are very grateful to George for documenting this important event this evening.

Our guests kindly offered their prayers and wishes for peace with the Peace Torch as they left at the end of this event. The Peace Torch shone brightly in the night, offering a powerful message of hope and peace. We are grateful to everyone who came here this evening and added very valuable, crucial and heartfelt efforts and intentions for peace and love in these challenging times.

Thank you again to all the organizers, awardees, participants and guests who all came together in oneness this evening to make this amazing and important event possible and very successful. May peace prevail in your lives, in the communities and with the friends that you love and serve.

Torch carried by
Arpan DeAngelo (United States), Ganapati Coleman (United States), Harita Davies (New Zealand), Lunthita Duthely (United States), Olivia Lopez (Mexico), Otis Davis (United States), Pradhan Balter (United States), Prema Jackson (United States), Stutisheel Lebedev (Ukraine), Sukantika Donavan (United States), Virangini Afzal (United States).  
Photographers
Arpan DeAngelo, Harita Davies
The torch has travelled 7.0 mi in Chicago, Illinois.

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