Just over a month ago the Olympic torch was lit, beginning the relay that will eventually spark the beginning of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As the Olympic torch made its way through the country of Japan this week, Lander University played host to a slightly different torch relay.
On Friday, April 25, Lander welcomed runners taking part in the North American route of the World Harmony Run, a torch relay made up of many simultaneous relays occurring in nearly 100 nations, located on six continents. As part of a global effort to cultivate good will on at a local level, the North American relay was kicked off in New York on April 10, with the aid of Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis and tennis champion Billie Jean King. (see caption below)
The run Friday started just north of Clinton, S.C., heading south on Highway 72. As the runners approached the Lander campus they were joined by university cross country and basketball team members and Lander president Dr. Daniel Ball and his wife, Marjorie.
Ball carried the torch for a stretch of the relay, bringing the runners to a reception in Lander’s Johnston Commons. There relay participants were greeted by Lander community members and Greenwood mayor Floyd Nicholson.
“I was elated when I heard about the Harmony Run,” said Nicholson. “If we are going to make a difference it’s going to take each person looking into his or her heart and making a commitment to work toward harmony across all barriers.”
During the reception Ball, along with the Harmony runners, presented Lander senior business administration/health care management major Kyle Hicks with the World Harmony Run Award, given in recognition of Hicks’ compassion for his fellow students and community members. Hicks, of Clemson, holds down several jobs in addition to his student duties, including serving as a student worker in the President’s Office.
“As a health care management major, Kyle has a commitment to caring for others. That is truly the Lander spirit – a dedication to helping your fellow man,” Ball said.
Hicks said he was “stunned and honored” to receive the award, adding “I can’t think of another place I’d rather be right now. Receiving this award is definitely a blessing.”
Ball, the first university president to ever run with the Harmony group, said he was delighted to see the warm reception for the runners on campus, adding that he believes the Lander spirit is synonymous with the goals the runners are trying to accomplish throughout the world.
“It’s a part of the Lander culture to be community-based,” he said. “Everyone on campus – from the students to the faculty and staff – is service-oriented, which is certainly one of our strengths.”
The Harmony runners expressed their appreciations to Lander, saying that the university had given them the warmest welcome they had received thus far on the national tour.
Friday’s segment of the North American World Harmony Run covered 95 miles and concluded in Athens, Ga. From there, the group will continue across the nation, visiting a total of 50 states before returning to where the relay began in New York City.
Lander University President Dr. Daniel Ball joined World Harmony Runners during a stretch of their national relay. Ball led the runners into the heart of Lander campus, where they were greeted by a reception in the university’s Johnston Commons.