Special Olympics torch travels through Charlotte Thursday

On its way to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, the Flame of Hope will race through Charlotte late Thursday afternoon, pausing at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for a free public celebration.

The public can watch the torch travel along North Tryon Street and The Plaza as it snakes through uptown Charlotte from about 5 p.m. until 6:05 p.m. The celebration, beginning at 5 p.m., features live music by singer Taylor Centers and the band Falling Through April.

Participants will include Special Olympics USA athletes Starr Kluttz of Concord and Kathleen Degnan of Charlotte.

Supporters could form teams of 15 and raise $1,000 for a chance to carry the torch, said Rachel McQuiston, a spokeswoman for Special Olympics North Carolina. McQuiston said the fundraiser, which for the first time allowed the public to sign up to carry the torch, was meant to bring in more people from different backgrounds.

“We want it to create a more unified community and a more unified country,” she said.

There are three routes nationally that started on the East Coast on May 27 and will arrive in Los Angeles for a July 10 ceremony.

Taylor: 240-472-0171; Twitter: @LangstonITaylor