We were welcomed this morning by a wonderful family in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Lizzy and her family, who planted a Peace Tree on their front lawn were very enthusiastic and excited to meet our Peace Run team at their beautiful home to start our day.
Juneau, their friendly dog, was also quite happy to see us.
Lizzy's 3 daughters, Sawyer, Harper and Scout were thrilled to run a block with us and to share the Peace Torch with each other.
Scout leads the way.
The girls were so happy that their dad, Beau, came back from his early morning bike ride to share the torch with everyone as well.
It was truly a great way to start the day and we are so grateful to the whole family for their heartfelt and enthusiastic reception.
Our good friend and expert tree planter, Kevin, points the way we should start to run towards our next destination.
We begin our run through the idyllic neighborhoods of Wilmette as we meet some very nice people along the way to share the torch and spread peace one person at a time.
Waiting patiently on the beautiful grounds of our next destination, the B'hai Temple, are Pradhan and Jeff, two members of our peace run team who are responsible for planting many of the Peace Trees that decorate the greater Chicago area.
The Temple is so big and ornate that we needed to take a long shot to get it all in the photo. We were not allowed to take photos inside, but we had a wonderful few minutes of meditation and prayer for world peace inside this huge and beautiful temple.
Our next destination was the Westside Ministers Conference in the Westside of Chicago.
Ouside the main building in the large garden and lawn were six peace trees planted last year and dedicated to different people who have offered their services towards peace in their communities in various ways over the years and decades.
Deacon Johhny Cheairs offers us an opening blessing and song as Denson Williams accompanies him on the keyboard.
Sevak, one of the organizers of our events here, and Dean Cheairs, stand by the peace tree dedicated to Rev. W.L. Upshire of the Prince of Peace Church, who spent most of his life sowing seeds of faith and peace in his community here on the Westside of Chicago. On the plaque there is the following poem by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run, which is poignantly relevant to the life of the late Reverend Upshire. "Yesterday I sowed faith-seed. Today I am discovering a beautiful and fruitful peace-tree."
Everyone gathered around this plaque and tree to pay our respects to late, great Rev. Upshire\, Founder of the Westside Ministers Conference.
Velda Brunner of the 11th District Police Department holds the peace torch by the tree dedicated to her tireless efforts to help bring peace and safety to the community, especially the elderly, homeless, and disadvantaged youth.
Velda receive the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award for her valuable decades of service to the community here.
Dr. Phalese Binnion, President of the Westside Ministers' Coalition, kindly offers a soulful prayer and powerful invocation for peace.
Prema holds our flag for Bernice Handy, as they stand by the Peace Tree dedicated to Bernice for her untiring service to the Greater Garfield Ministry Baptist Church.
Larry Howard, Proprietor of the Westside Ministers' Conference headquarters here, offers his kind words of wisdom here as he works hard to upkeep this Peace Garden and the building itself.
Dr. Binnion receives our Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the Westside Ministers Coalition, and Larry Howard accepts our Certificate of Appreciation for the Westside Ministers Conference as they stand by the Peace Tree and plaque dedicated to the Westside Ministers Baptist Conference here at their main headquarters and garden.
Venus Vaughn of Nobel Neighbors, and her husband Clayton Vaughn address the crowd and offer a soulful prayer and message.
Venus and Clayton Vaughn with Bernice Handy who received the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award for her decades of service to the community as well.
The Peace Run team introduces ourselves and offers the Peace Run song composed by Sri Chinmoy about 30 years ago.
Before we go indoors to have lunch here with all the peace lovers and servers, we have a few moments of musical entertainment at we accompanied once more by the wonderful keyboard player, Denson Williams, who attends the Prince of Peace church and has humbly offered his musical talents to us here and at the South Side Cultural Center yesterday as well.
Gunard Polite, with the Gideons International Organization and the American Legion, holds the Peace Torch to offer his prayers and wishes for peace as Deacon Cheairs holds our Certification of Appreciation, accompanied by a song with Denson Williams on keyboard and Arpan on harmonica.
While we went indoors for lunch with our inspiring friends, Dr. Pearley M. Upshire, left, honors her elder brother, Rev. W.L. Upshire, Founder of the Westside Ministers Conference. She receives our Certificate of Appreciation signed by all our international running team, in his honor. Bernice Handy, who has been working devotedly here at the Westside Ministers Conference and has a Peace Tree dedicated to her dedicated work at the Greater Garfield Ministry Baptist Church, cheerfully stands with her good friend Dr. Pearley Upshire.
Deacon Cheiars and Sevak display our Certificates of Appreciation with Dr. Pearley Upshire and Bernice Handy.
Rev. Henderson, Former President of the Westside Ministers Conference, who could not make it here today, was also honored for his decades of service to the community.
After lunch we started running through the neighborhoods of Evanston and the Northwestern University campus, the 'alma mater' of Pradhan, one of our main organizers of the Peace Trees project and many other community events in Chicago.
Along the way we met some very nice locals who also wanted to share their hopes and dreams for peace. We were thrilled to meet the former Mayor of Evanston, Stephen Hagerty. During his tenure as Mayor until 2021 Evanston was recognized as an All-American City by the National Civic League due to his local reparations initiative and Evanston Cares Network.
Two university students who were out on their own training run also stopped to kindly share the Peace Torch. Coincidentally one of them was good friends with Mayor Haggerty's son.
Pradhan, with torch, guided us through this beautiful university campus with scenic views of Lake Michigan and the downtown Chicago skyline.
These two university students are on the college soccer team and were delighted to share the peace torch with us. They were putting their colorful wooden 'sculpture' into the car when we were passing by and looked like they needed some help lifting their creation into the vehicle. It is so inspiring to see people cheerfully respond to the Peace Run as we pass by unexpectedly.
We made a quick photo opportunity in front of a stone church on campus where Sri Chinmoy, the Founder of the Peace Run, offered a peace concert over 30 years ago.
Later in the day we made our way to Portage, Indiana, where we were welcomed at the Portage Boys and Girls Club of Greater Indiana and their enthusiastic Director, Marina Kirova.
A large group of children were eagerly awaiting our arrival inside the gym.
Marina, Director of the Boys of Girls Club, proudly holds the flag of Macedonia, the country where she grew up as a child.
The children, and a teddy bear, take a silent moment to feel peace in their hearts.
Lunthita, who came here all the way from Florida, explains to the children our game of guessing where we were all from and then locating it on our huge map of the world.
The children are thinking hard to figure out our countries or cities as we give the clues.
Eventually they guessed all the counties correctly.
Marina gives her clues as to which country she was originally from in Europe.
Pradhan, one of our team members shows his enthusiasm with the children for guessing everything correctly.
The children then accompany us in singing and doing the actions to one of the Peace Run songs composed by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Run.
We offer the children amusing skits which demonstrate either peaceful or not so peaceful behavior, which they have to judge. In this way they may understand in a playful way how our behavior towards others is important in helping to create peace.
One of the students was eager to share her beautiful poem about peace to everyone here.
One of our local organizers for the Peace Run, Mayankinee Mary Landi, presents to Marina the Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award for her many years of service to the children here. Marina has offered her very dedicated service to the Boys and Girls Club for 12 years, working her way up from counselor to Director. Her lover for her work and for the children inspires us greatly and is crucial in helping to establish peace in the community and for the families here in Portage.
The children display a colorful painting by Sri Chinmoy on the theme of peace offered to the club as a token of our gratitude for having us here today.
Marina proudly carries the Peace Torch outside to lead the children in a peace run around the playground.
The children then get a chance to pass the peace torch around as they make wishes for peace in silence.
We are extremely grateful for the wonderful and enthusiastic participation here at the Portage Boys and Girls Club of Greater Indiana.
Torch carried by Arpan DeAngelo(United States),
Harita Davies(New Zealand),
Kevin Carroll(United States),
Lunthita Duthely(United States),
Mayankinee Landy(United States),
Mudavati Arksey(United States),
Pradhan Balter(United States),
Prema Jackson(United States),
Siddhanta Weiderhold(United States),
Sukantika Donavan(United States).
The torch has travelled
from Chicago, Illinois to Portage, Indiana.