HOUSTON – The Reliant Energy Torch Relay began its more than 1,000-mile journey across Texas today to light the way to the 2011 Summer National Senior Games presented by Humana, the world’s largest multi-sport event for men and women over the age of 50.
Starting from the Johnson Space Center on June 8, the eight-day torch relay tour, sponsored by Reliant Energy, will travel to Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Arlington, College Station, Beaumont, Galveston and finally Houston to recognize Texans who are competing in the Games. The Games will bring to Texas more than 10,000 athletes from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and some foreign countries June 16-30.
“We are excited to kickoff the Reliant Energy Torch Relay to light the way to the 2011 Summer National Senior Games presented by Humana,” said Phil Godfrey, President and CEO of the National Senior Games Association, “The statewide run will bring our message about the value of physical activity to tens of thousands of seniors all across Texas.”
The “Fitness Flame” will be carried by hundreds of athletes, celebrities, local dignitaries and Reliant Energy representatives. The “Fitness Flame” will make stops at historical sites in the designated Texas cities where there will be ceremonies and relays for the passing of the torch.
• Houston (Johnson Space Center), June 8, 10 a.m.
The Reliant Energy Torch Relay will launch at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham will light the “Fitness Flame” and take the first “orbit” around the Saturn V rocket display. National Senior Games Association President and CEO Phil Godfrey, Richard Allen, Space Center Houston Executive Director and Bill Krueger, Texas and National High School Basketball Hall of Famer and past Senior Games athlete will speak during the ceremony.
• Corpus Christi (USS Lexington), June 9, 9:30 a.m.
The torch will arrive on the flight deck of the USS Lexington. Five Corpus Christi residents who qualified for the National Senior Games will participate in the relay. Corpus Christi Mayor Joe Adame and retired USS Lexington Captain and Senior Games athlete F. W. “Rocco” Montesano will speak during the ceremony.
• San Antonio (San Fernando Cathedral), June 10, 9:30 a.m.
Approximately 50 torch bearers will carry the flame, including former Texas Longhorn and Cowboys wide receiver Wane McGarrity and San Antonio area Senior Games athletes. A representative from San Antonio’s Mayor’s Fitness Council, as well as McGarrity, will speak during the ceremony. After the ceremony the torch will be carried to the Riverwalk and Alamo Plaza.
• Austin (Auditorium Shore Park and RunTex Riverside), June 11, 10 a.m.
In the spirit of “The Fittest City in America,” 45 senior athletes, including 15 “Austinites,” will carry the torch to and from the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue at Auditorium Shore Park and conclude at RunTex Riverside. Paul Carrozza, running icon and Governor’s Fitness Council Chair and Lou Earle, Chair of Austin’s Mayor’s Fitness Council and publisher of “Austin Fit” magazine will speak during the ceremony.
• Arlington (Cowboys Stadium), June 12, 2:30 p.m.
More than 50 local athletes attending the Games, including five Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame members, will pass the torch at the AT&T (West) Plaza at Cowboy’s Stadium. Texas and National Senior Games Association Board members will speak during the ceremony, including Monica Paul, Ed Roberts and Shirley Whitlock.
• College Station (Texas A&M University’s Reed Arena), June 13, 1 p.m.
Senior Games basketball athletes will participate in the torch relay at Reed Arena alongside Texas A&M Women’s basketball team Head Coach Gary Blair and members of the 2011 Final Four champion Texas A&M Women’s basketball team.
• Beaumont (Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum at Lamar University), June 14, 9:45 a.m.
More than 30 senior torch bearers, including five local athletes, will circle the oil rig and early 1900’s boomtown replica structures at the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum at Lamar University. Lamar University representatives and Mark Osborne, Executive Director of the Museum, will speak during the ceremony.
• Galveston (Moody Gardens), June 15, 9:15 a.m.
National Senior Games athlete Vicki Blythe of Galveston will carry the torch at Moody Gardens along with 35 others. Bill Krueger, Texas and National High School Basketball Hall of Famer, and past Senior Games athlete will speak during the ceremony, as well as Robert Callies, Moody Gardens General Manager, Barbara Sanderson, Galveston Parks and Recreation Director and Mario Rabago, Galveston Park Board of Trustees Executive Director.
• Houston (City Hall and Discovery Green), June 16, 9 a.m.
The torch will arrive at Houston’s City Hall. Local Senior Games athletes will pass around the torch and Fred Newhouse, Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist (1964) will speak during the ceremony. The torch will arrive at Minute Maid Park at 12:30 p.m. where one male and one female Senior Games athlete from Houston will bring the torch from right field to home plate. The Torch Relay will end at Discovery Green (8 p.m.), and like the Olympic tradition, the torch will be used to light the Games’ cauldron, marking the official opening of the 2011 Summer National Senior Games presented by Humana.
To find out more about the torch relay and to follow its progress in pictures, please visit www.NSGA.com/torchrelay.
About the 2011 National Summer Senior Games
With its motto of Long Live the Challenge, the Games are dedicated to motivating men and women to lead an active, healthy lifestyle through fitness, education and sport. Senior athletes will compete over 15 days for medals in 18 sports at 14 different venues in the Houston area June 16-30. Included in the competitions in the 2011 Games are archery, badminton, basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, race walking, racquetball, road racing, shuffleboard, softball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, triathlon and volleyball. To compete in the National Games, athletes have competed in sanctioned state games during the last year. Separated into five year age increments, the top four finishers in each group qualified to compete in Houston.