The “Flame of Hope” that’s winding its way to the Special Olympics U-S-A National Games in Ames has a unique design. The torch was made by Midwest Trophy Manufacturing and company spokesman Donna Lamprecht says organizers of the torch run asked her firm to do something unique. They wanted to capture the “culture” of Iowa and she says that’s why the torch is designed in the shape of a corn cob. “Iowa is all about corn and we wanted to do it in a classy way,” Lamprecht says.
“We put some husks on there with some sculpted stars…and then we put some ribbons around the top.” The flame of the torch was lit in Chicago’s Soldier Field, which hosted the first Special Olympics competition. That’s why there are references to both Soldier Field and Ames, Iowa engraved in the torch. “We ended up making it gold and the bowl (for the flame) is gold, so when they’re holding it, they’re holding it on the center of the corn cop,” Lamprecht says.
Over one-hundred runners — including Special Olympics athletes as well as law enforcement officers — have been carrying the torch since Saturday, June 24th on a route that started in Chicago’s Soldier Field. The flame crossed into Iowa this past Monday. The hand-held torch will light the caldron of flame at the Special Olympics opening ceremonies Sunday in Ames.
A Special Olympics athlete will have the honor of carrying the torch from Hilton Coliseum to the stadium for the official lighting ceremony. The corn-shaped, hand-held torch is not running on corn-based ethanol fuel, but camping fuel, and Lamprecht says it’s designed to withstand wind and rain. “When you saturate that wick, it goes through just about anything,” she says.
Lamprecht’s company, which is based in Oklahoma City, has been making torches for Special Olympics for about a decade, and the corn cob design is one among many. Midwest Trophy made a torch in the shape of a walrus tusk for Alaska’s Special Olympics and used native bog wood for Ireland’s Special Olympics.
“Our sculptors just love it,” she says. “And of course we all love the Special Olympics because we’ve been involved with them since 1987.” The company manufactures the medals which are handed out to Special Olympics athletes.