Our first six days on the WHR in Florida were quite productive and
inspiring, although a bit on the hot side. Reaching the mid 90's F or
mid 30's C, the weather was no match for the energy generated by the
children and adults alike who greeted us in Florida. Here is one of
many recent stories written for our website www.worldharmonyrun.org
Please visit that site for more stories and lots of wonderful photos,
not only of the events in the U.S.A. but in other countries, mostly in
in Europe at this time.
I will try to keep contributing stories here as regularly as I can
just to keep everyone inspired to visit the WHR website and to inspire
others to possibly get more involved in any way you can this year.
May 7,Monday, Tampa Bay Area, Florida
After a very busy two days of ceremonies in the Miami area, yesterday
was our day off to relax and enjoy harmony with nature as we spent
part of the day at the beautiful Blue Springs State Park in Orange
City, north of Orlando. The Morrison family, our good friends who have
arranged many events for us so far, planned this trip for us as well.
We enjoyed the fresh air of a beautiful wooded area and the cool and
clear waters of a small river running through it. Some well groomed
trails through the woods made for nice, relaxed and private running
where I saw no other runner for over an hour as I enjoyed the Cypress
and Pine forests. Although we had to do lots of driving back and forth
to get to and from this park, it was well worth the time and effort as
we all enjoyed this peaceful and harmonious day with Mother Nature.
A fast moving storm shortened our stay there by mid afternoon, so we
made our way back to the La Quinta Hotel in Tampa where we were
offered two complimentary rooms to stay in for a few nights by Mrs.
Borkowsky, the mother of our good friend Mahesh. We also were treated
a wonderful meal at the nearby IHOP Restaurant by Shannon, the
manager, and Barry, the General Manager. Hector, our waiter, surprised
us as he spoke English, Spanish and Italian, all the three languages
that our four man team speaks. It was great service and delicious food
and we are so grateful for their kind contribution.
Today was a very busy day which saw us visit four schools and run
relays with the Torch in between three of them. We ran to the first
school in Clearwater, called the Blossom Montessori School for the
Deaf. It is one of only two Montessori schools in the country for the
deaf. We were joined there by some of our local friends from the Tampa
area, Tilvila, who arranged all of our ceremonies and meals, and
Ahana, Norma, Terry, and Linda, who ran with the Torch today as well
as take part in the ceremonies. It was our largest team on the trip so
This Montessori school was unique and incredibly heart-warming. Julie
Rutenberg, the Principal, and Carol Downing, the head teacher, were
very excited to have us at the school to share our experiences with
the children. Most of the children could not hear or were hard of
hearing, but some of the students were siblings and could hear
normally. It was a wonderful mix of hearing abilities and ages
combined with incredibly adeptness at signing, the language of the deaf.
Everyone could sign here and we even learned some words in that
language. It is like an art form, a very creative dance of hand and
body movements which speaks very clearly to all those who know the
language. Offering our experiences while everything was being
translated mostly by Carol, was a challenging and at the same time a
very rewarding experience. Over the years some of us have visited
many, many schools and have had memorable experiences at most of them.
But our unique experiences at this school have touched our hearts and
minds deeply and we shall never forget our morning there at the
As we started our run to the next school, the temperature was rising
as the sun beat down on the hot pavement all along the route. We
finally made it to the Wellington School in Seminole, the next town
over. Cindy Moon, the Director of the Wellington Schools, and Linda
Mileski, the Principal of this school, helped to arrange this exciting
reception as the children lined the sidewalks into the school,
cheering the runners on as we carried the torch into the auditorium.
The children started the program with the Pledge of Allegiance and
performed America the Beautiful, beautifully, I might add. There was
some poetry and singing and finally all the children had a chance to
hold the Torch and offer their wishes, prayers and goodwill. Some of
the young children were very thoughtful and grateful and one very
young girl was so moved that she very sincerely hugged one of our
runners after she held the torch.
Directly after this Wellington School, we hurried to another
Wellington School, the upper school for the older children on a
different campus. Karen Matthews, the Principal there, along with
Cindy Moon and most of the teachers and staff, again organized a
wonderful program with the children. We enjoyed two different
orchestras performing a song each, as well as a solo performer on
Our presentation varies slightly according to the ages of the children
involved, and in this case we had a high energy and very receptive
audience of over 150 children in the bleachers. The excitement really
swelled as Karen and most of the others teachers, including one
teacher who is expecting a child in about one month, all ran around
the auditorium with the Torch as the children very enthusiastically
cheered them on. Heading outdoors we passed the Torch around to all
the children to offer their wishes and prayers for harmony and
friendship. Before we left, a few of the high school girls decided to
spontaneously sing our theme song for us once more as they enjoyed the
rhythms and the music and positive message generated by this song
written by the founder of the World Harmony Run, Sri Chinmoy. The
words are: "Run, run, run, run, run, run, world Harmony Run. We are
the Oneness and Fulness of tomorrow's sun."
Running the Torch to our last location, we made it to the Rio Vista
after school program in St. Petersburg before 4 pm. Katie Brewer, the
Program Director, along with the staff,(`Coaches' as they are referred
to), and over 150 children, all welcomed us to this beautiful campus.
Starting our program indoors in an auditorium with a big stage, we
then proceeded outdoors where the children and staff executed a long
and serpentine Torch run around the huge field. After a session of
photos with the children and the Torch, we had to leave another
exciting school experience, hopefully leaving behind as well as taking
with us valuable lessons on harmony and friendship.
We ended the day with a very nice dinner offered by Tilvila, our local
coordinator, and other friends who live and work here in the Tampa
area. It was also a surprise party for one of the workers in her
restaurant in Palm Harbor, called Consciousness-Blossoms. Katya just
returned home from a successful 6-Day race in New York City, sponsored
by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. In her first attempt at a multi-day
race, she completed 300 miles in 6 days, a very noteworthy
achievement. Our combined mileage here running with the Torch has not
even come close to that in the last five days.
Our small team of four core members have only been in Florida for five
days so far, but with all the wonderful experiences offered by our
friends here as well as our new friends in all the schools we have
been to, it seems like weeks that we have been enjoying the sun and
warmth of this beautiful state and all of its people.
Arpan and The Core Team U.S.A.: Francesco, Salil, Banshidhar