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Special Olympics Unified Relay across America announced on GMA; co-captain Joe Haden appears on SportsCenter

This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, Olympic figure skater and Special Olympics International Board Member Michelle Kwan announced the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America, which gives anyone in the United States a chance to carry the Flame of Hope across three trails leading to Los Angeles, site of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The relay will culminate at the World Games Opening Ceremony on July 25, 2015.

Disney-owned ESPN and ABC are the Official Media Partners of the Unified Relay, while ESPN is the official broadcaster of the World Games and will telecast the Opening Ceremony live as well as a nightly highlights program throughout the nine-day event. ESPN is also the global presenting sponsor and official media sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.

Throughout the 46-day U.S. portion of the relay, which starts on May 26, ESPN and ABC will tell the story of the relay across its multiple media platforms, covering each of the three routes as they cross the country. This coverage will include a “torch tracker” and “Countdown to LA2015” clock on ESPN.com. Additionally, ESPN and ABC employees will participate as torchbearers.

“We are extremely proud of the relationship we have with Special Olympics Unified Sports, the Unified Relay Across America and the upcoming LA2015 World Games,” said Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International Russell Wolff. “We can’t wait to tell the many amazing stories of this relay and the Games this summer.”

Each Unified Relay route will be led by a group of co-captains, including media personalities, actors, musicians, athletes and Special Olympics athletes. One of those co-captains, Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns, appeared on a variety of ESPN programs today, including SportsCenter, His & Hers and SVP & Russillo, to talk about his newly announced roles as Special Olympics Global Ambassador and relay co-captain.

In the video above, Haden, who is joined by Vanessa Robles, a Special Olympics athlete who will be competing for Team USA Softball at the World Games, discusses the significance of being a Unified Relay co-captain.

Allie Stoneberg contributed to this post; video above produced by Dave Williams