Runners stop in Laurel on 46-state peace mission


April 23, 1999|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY TWO years since 1987, Peace Runs International Inc. has sponsored a cross-country run to focus attention on the need for world peace.

This year's run began April 17 in New York and is scheduled to end there in the middle of August, after passing through 46 states.

On Wednesday, the runners came through Laurel.

Laurel is acquainted with this event and enjoys it. In 1995, Mayor Frank Casula, now 78, joined the runners for part of the event. This year, because of an injured knee, he welcomed the runners but did not participate.

Maryland state troopers and the Laurel Police Department provide a safety escort for the group, which runs on U.S. 1. But the run sounded like such a good idea that four volunteers from the police force offered to join the runners for part of the way. Lt. Andrew Stroup, Lt. Frederick Carmen and Pfc. Edward Swanson ran from the Prince George's County line to Muirkirk Road -- about five miles.

Swanson has run in the Boston Marathon, so a five-mile run is a pleasant interlude to him. He was named the Prince George's County American Legion Officer of the Year on April 12.

Sgt. Carl DeWalt of the Laurel department's patrol division also ran. Rather than stop at Muirkirk Road, he decided to run the next leg to the District of Columbia line. The 14-year veteran of the force often participates in 5- to 10-mile races.

One very short race earned him a citation: He was named the Prince George's County Chiefs Association Officer of the Year on Tuesday. Among the reasons given for his selection was a successful foot race against a burglary suspect.

The runners came through Laurel about 1 p.m. They were scheduled to reach Washington at 3 p.m. On a scheduled break, they took a bus back to Laurel for a short ceremony emphasizing the need for peace and tolerance.

Flags welcome runners

Students from Laurel Elementary School made flags that decorated the stage on the first floor of Laurel Mall. The flags were held by Laurel Elementary Principal Gail Fuller, the runners and members of the Laurel High School choir, which sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and "God Bless America."

There were short presentations by the runners -- some of whom came from as far away as Australia and Norway -- and a poem read by Versiphier, the pen name of Gigi Gordon, a friend of Linda Sloan, who organized the event.

Sloan, a legal secretary who lives in Lanham and shops at Laurel Mall, staged the event for the first time with help and advice from fellow legal secretary Chandini Bachman.

Bachman has organized the Maryland portion of the run for the last six events, and, as she says, it's a relay: time to hand it off to someone else.

The Disciples of Mayhem -- a rap group from Virginia Beach, Va. -- performed for the ceremony.

Students take part

There was agreement that the best part was readings of essays on peace by students from Oaklands Elementary and Laurel Elementary.

Debbie Burke, public relations assistant at the mall, said the children impressed the audience of more than 200 visitors with their maturity and poise.

Reading were first-grader Robert Quinton, fourth-graders Heather Magner and Syeda Quadri, and sixth-grader Sara Hamlet, all of Laurel Elementary.

Oaklands Elementary pupils Amanda Uduka and Shantu Chester also read.

The next run is scheduled to come through Laurel in 2001.

Coming up soon

With all the fine weather, we've gone out into the garden and gotten grubby. But there are lots of events coming up this spring of a different nature.

For example, Columbia Pro Cantare will present a concert of operatic favorites April 30 at Jim Rouse Theater for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.

Pro Cantare features area voices, and soloists have been invited to perform. Come hear area residents Donald Butler, Carolyn Cregan, Julia Haggar, Matt Johnsen and Fran Williams, as well as soloists Kishna Davis (a native of Howard County), Charles Reid and Lester Lynch.

Tickets are $17, $15 for seniors. That gets you a terrific evening, beginning with a lecture at 7: 30 p.m. by Jonathan Palevsky, program director of WBJC-radio.

Information: 410-465-5744.

Pub Date: 4/23/99

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