Haywood County Deputy Daniel Blagg Selected to Carry the Flame of Hope as part of Final Leg Torch Run Team for 2017 Special Olympics World Games

DptyBlaggFlame serves as beacon of inspiration to thousands during Law Enforcement Torch Run to Austria

4/19/16 Raleigh,NC – Special Olympics North Carolina is proud to announce that Deputy Daniel Blagg of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office in Waynesville, NC, has been selected as North Carolina’s only law enforcement official to the Final Leg team that will run the “Flame of Hope” throughout Austria in March 2017 prior to the start of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

One hundred-twenty three Final Leg runners from around the world were selected to represent their local Torch Run and Special Olympics Programs.  The Final Leg team will begin in Bregenz, Austria and embark on two different routes, running the Flame of Hope throughout 45 communities across Austria while honoring the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and delivering a message of hope to communities where people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion.  The final destination for the “Flame of Hope” is the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Schladming (Stadium Planai) on Saturday, March 18th.

Deputy Blagg, a six-year veteran with Haywood County Sheriff’s Office has served as the agency’s Torch Run coordinator for the past four years.  He was honored with the 2016 NC Law Enforcement Torch Run Guardian of the Flame award for his ingenuity, motivation, commitment and dedication to the Torch Run. The annual Haywood County Sheriff’s Office “Cops on Top” fundraiser has become the state’s highest grossing “Cops on Top” fundraiser under Deputy Blagg’s leadership and direction. He is also a member of the Special Emergency Response Team, Honor Guard and participates in several other community outreach programs.

“I’m excited and honored to represent my agency and my state in spreading the Special Olympics mission of inclusion for everyone around the world,” said Deputy Blagg. “I think it’s important that everyone see Special Olympics is about empowering people with intellectual disabilities both on and off the field of play.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® Final Leg for the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria will take place March 9 – 18.  A team of 133 members – which includes 88 law enforcement officer runners and 10 Special Olympics athletes will serve as Guardians of the Flame as they run the Flame of Hope throughout Austria. Law Enforcement runners from around the world are selected to represent their Torch Run and Special Olympics Programs in the Final Leg. The Special Olympics athletes were selected to be a part of the Final Leg Team based on nominations received from around the world.

“For more than 30 years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been an integral part of the Special Olympics Movement,” said Hermann Kroell, President of Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017. “We look forward to seeing Austrians cheering on the Final Leg Team as they bring the World Games message of acceptance and inclusion throughout the country.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics is Special Olympics’ largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness campaign.  More than 90,000 law enforcement members in all 50 U.S. States, 12 Canadian provinces/territories, and 44 other countries contribute to LETR efforts annually as Guardians of the Flame®, ensuring the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the Opening Ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions, state/provincial Games, and national/regional Games.

For more information on the Final Leg team and the members participating, please visit


About Special Olympics North Carolina
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels. Special Olympics North Carolina is supported by individuals, foundations, and partners including the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, NC Knights of Columbus, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, Sheetz, Credit Suisse, Civitan NC Districts East and West, and MBA Games of the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.   Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at Engage with us on and

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.4 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 94,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys”R”Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;, and


About the 2017 Austria Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg

The Final Leg tradition is for law enforcement officers, representing their country, state and Torch Run Program, to act as “Guardians of the Flame” and carry the Special Olympics Torch and “Flame of Hope” to the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games. This Torch Run event is called the Final Leg because it represents the culmination of Torch Run events that have occurred previously throughout the World.  The Torch Run Final Leg is not only a salute to the athletes from around the World who will compete in the Special Olympics World Games, but also an honor for the participating law enforcement officers who comprise the Torch Run Final Leg Team.  The Olympic flame symbolizes the light of spirit, knowledge and life. With identical power and majesty, the Special Olympics “Flame of Hope,” in the entrusted care of the law enforcement community, symbolizes the courage and celebration of diversity that the Special Olympics movement represents.  The 2017 Final Leg will precede the Special Olympics World Games held in Schladming, Graz and Ramsau, Austria.  The mission of the Final Leg is to create awareness and excitement for Special Olympics, support and attendance of the World Games, and involve, inspire and motivate runners to increase their level of commitment to Special Olympics when they return to their local Programs.  The Final Leg Team (133 members strong) is comprised of law enforcement runners, Special Olympics athletes, and Logistics Team members from 44 states and  26 countries around the world representing 83 Torch Run programs.  Final Leg runners were chosen for their dedication and commitment to the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics by their respective Torch Run Programs throughout the world. For more information on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg for the 2017 World Games, please contact Final Leg Committee Chairman and Team Captain John Newnan at

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