The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, ( peacerun.org ) an international torch relay, was in Bainbridge Island May 16.
The international team from six countries is on a two-month journey throughout the U.S. to share a message that peace begins with the individual. Along the route they meet with schools, youth organizations and groups to give local citizens an opportunity to express their hopes and dreams for peace.
The run is back on the road after pausing due to COVID-19 restrictions. A modified route will include passing the Peace Torch along roads in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Also scheduled are visits to Florida, San Diego, Seattle and Chicago. Runners will offer educational presentations that promote respect of others and the oneness of humanity.
For over 30 years the Peace Run has traversed over 160 nations on all seven continents as a symbol of humanity’s universal aspiration for a more peaceful world. Since the inaugural run in 1987, more than 7 million people have participated. Commendations have come from many world figures including Pope Francis, President Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, Saint Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali, state governors, city mayors and celebrities around the world.
In an effort to support the environment the Peace Run will plant and dedicate trees for peace in many of the cities along the route. Other initiatives include offering the Torch-Bearer Award to local citizens who have contributed to the well-being of their community. In Bainbridge that was Robin Gaphni, Island Volunteer Caregivers director of programs who just retired, and Ed Moydell, chief executive officer at the Bloedel Reserve.
The Peace Run was inspired by visionary Sri Chinmoy to give citizens a dynamic way to express their own hopes and dreams for a more harmonious world. An athlete, philosopher, artist, musician and poet, Sri Chinmoy dedicated his life to inspiring people to find peace within themselves. He said, ”Lasting peace must begin within the depths of the individual, and from there spread in ever-widening circles as a dynamic force for world change.”
Gaphni came to IVC in 2013 but has lived on Bainbridge since 1993. She designed both volunteer and older adult programs. In fall of 2010 her oldest son died unexpectedly at 21 from a virulent form of strep. Since then, Gaphni became interested in grief and loss and has developed and co-facilitated the Grief Support Groups for IVC.
“Robin has been an unbelievable resource for Island Volunteer Caregivers and our community in general. She has a sincere compassion for those handling grief and has an amazing ability to use her devastating personal experience to compassionately help others move through difficult times,” said Joanne Maher, executive director.
Gaphni started the grief group Compassionate Companions, and Flowers from the Heart programs for seniors, helping make life better for people on BI.