• JOSH TURNER JOINS REEBOK’S ‘BE MORE HUMAN’ CAMPAIGN.

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Friday, February 27, 2015) – Yesterday, country star Josh Turner traveled to Boston, Mass. for the opening round of this year’s Reebok CrossFit Games, and to explore what it means to Be More Human. Reebok’s globally integrated Be More Human campaign celebrates ordinary people who use sports and fitness in their quest for personal fulfillment and to serve the greater good.
     
    Like so many, Turner struggles to maintain balance between work, family and personal time. Turner is a multi-platinum selling recording artist and celebrated musician, as well as a husband, a father of four young boys and a long-time health-conscience athlete. In a time when Turner was disillusioned with the fitness world and endless supplements promising unrealistic results, he had a chance encounter with four-time CrossFit Games Champion Rich Froning and discovered a whole new approach to fitness.
     
    “I had heard about CrossFit from several fitness magazines and had just seen Rich on the cover of Muscle & Fitness,” shares Turner.  “The very next day, I actually met him at the Nashville airport. He casually asked if I had ever tried CrossFit and I told him no, so he invited me out to his CrossFit Mayhem [Cookeville, Tenn.] and I took him up on it.” Turner remembers, “The first workout he put me through had me coughing my lungs up for hours, but it didn’t deter me.”
     
    Turner and Froning formed a fast friendship and the country singer’s CrossFit journey began. Two years later, Turner is doing his first CrossFit competition claiming, “I never dreamed I would be competing in a CrossFit Open! I’m looking forward to it, but I’m scared to death because I’m far from being an expert at CrossFit.”
     
    The opening night of the five-week worldwide competition showed Froning topping elite CrossFitter Mat Fraser in a head-to-head matchup for round one. In the crowd, Turner cheered Froning on and gathered inspiration from both of these world-class athletes.  Turner will attempt his first competition workout today at Crossfit ONE at the Reebok headquarters in Boston.
     
    You can follow Josh’s CrossFit Open journey here.
     
    For more information on Josh Turner and his latest radio single, “Lay Low,” visit www.JoshTurner.com.
    For more information on Reebok’s Be More Human campaign, visit Reebok.com.
    For more information on the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, visit Games.Crossfit.com.
     
    About the CrossFit Games:
    The CrossFit Games are the world’s premier test to find the Fittest on Earth™. They are world-renowned as a grueling test for the world’s toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators. Since its inception in 2007, the CrossFit Games have become “one of the fastest growing sports in America,” according to Forbes.
    There is no other true test of fitness. The CrossFit Games stand alone as the ULTIMATE test of fitness. No test, regardless of its lofty claims, can grant legitimate title to the best without first providing access to ALL.
    For more information, visit games.crossfit.com.  
     
    About Rich Froning Jr.:
    Rich Froning Jr. is an American professional CrossFit athlete known for his achievements in the 2010201120122013 and 2014 CrossFit Games. He became the first person to win the title of “Fittest Man on Earth” four times with his first place in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 CrossFit Games.
     
  • JOSH TURNER SAYS FATHERHOOD IS ‘VERY FULFILLING.’

    Josh Turner has realized several dreams, including having a recording contract, No. 1 songs and being able to sing for a living. However, one of his biggest dreams to come true is that of father.

    “It’s something that I’ve always desired. It’s something I’ve always wanted. Jennifer [my wife] and I both have always wanted children, and having the children now and having them be a part of your life and knowing that I’m responsible for them and their life and teaching them things, just a lot of different aspects of life, great for me,” says Josh. “It’s very fulfilling.”

    Josh is the father of four boys — Hampton, Colby, Marion and Hawke (who was born in September).

    Josh is currently climbing the country charts with his latest single, “Lay Low,” which is from his forthcoming album, due out later this year.

    Audio / Josh Turner says he’s always wanted to be a father.

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    Josh Turner (best thing about fatherhood) OC: …they’re headed. :50
    “There’s a lot of great things about it to me. For me, it’s something that I’ve always desired. It’s something I’ve always wanted. Jennifer [my wife] and I both have always wanted children, and having the children now and having them be a part of your life and knowing that I’m responsible for them and their life and teaching them things, just a lot of different aspects of life, great for me. It’s very fulfilling. It’s hard to just be their father, because you want to be their friend and you want to do a lot of fun things with them, but I’ve realized that that’s not really my place. It’s my place to be their father and raise them up in the way that they should go. It’s true – they are our replacements and so, we have to just teach them about where they came from and where they’re headed.”

     

  • VALENTINE’S DAY: AJ, Billy, Canaan, Darius, David, Dierks, Josh, Keith, LBT, Luke

    Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special someone. The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.

    141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)

    2.2 million marriages take place in the United States annually, which breaks down to more than 6,000 a day.

    Saturday is Valentine’s Day (February 14th), and we’ve got some thoughts and feelings more about love, romance and marriage from several of your favorite country artists. Some are new and some have become our favorites over the years. Which country stars are romantic? Which ones aren’t? Which ones have a good reason to celebrate the holiday that’s all about love?

    Audio / AUDIO: Alan Jackson talks about his love for wife, Denise, over the years.

    Download

    AJ (Valentine’s Day) OC: …continue to. :24

    “We got a lot of history together now, and we’re happier than we’ve ever been. So, she’s still beautiful, and she’s always inspired songs. I mean, one of my early hitswas a song called ‘I’d Love You All Over Again,’ I wrote for her for our 10th anniversary. I mean, there’s been a zillion songs that have pieces of our good days and bad days inspired, and they continue to.”

     

    Audio / Billy Currington recalls his first real Valentine’s Day.

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    Billy Currington (Valentine’s Day memory) OC: …took off running. :21
    “Yeah, I remember my first girlfriend. I was in first or second grade, but anyway, I remember it was Valentine’s Day and your mom going, ‘You’ve got to give your girlfriend something, and you’ve got to go give it to her.’ I’ll never forget — we got her a box of chocolates or whatever it was. I remember going down to her classroom and knocking on the door, getting her to come to the door. I remember handing it to her, and then I took off running.”

     

    Audio / Canaan Smith says he tries to show his wife how special she is every day.

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    Canaan Smith (Valentine’s Day) OC: …get lucky. :25
    “I bet I’m just like 99.9% of the rest of the men in the world who could really care less about that holiday. I want my wife to feel special, so I’m gonna take part in it. I’m gonna do my part to make her feel special and loved, but is it necessary? Shouldn’t we do that every day? I mean, it kinda is just another way to get a bunch of money out of us, but oh well. We’ll go see a movie or something. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

     

    Audio / Darius Rucker knew he would marry his wife, Beth, on their first date.

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    Darius Rucker (wife) OC: …her and country music saved my life. :43

    “I don’t know what it was about her. I mean, it was EVERYTHING about her. I knew, I told her I was going to marry her on our first date, [laughs] yeah. Beth’s a strong woman. It takes a strong woman to be married to a musician, especially a musician who was drinking and partying as hard as I was, and I think life for us is where we are now. It took a long time for us to get to where we are now, and we say to each other all the time, ‘I love us. I love our family. I love us.’ And I thank her every day for staying with me and being the strong woman she is, because with Hootie & the Blowfish, I could be gone for three months and then I’d come home for two days and then I’d be gone again for a month, and she put up with all that crap. You know, her and country music saved my life.”

     

    Audio / David Nail says his songwriting abilities sometimes work against him with his wife, Catherine, especially around Valentine’s Day.

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    David Nail (Valentine’s Day) OC: …line for me. :47
    “Very early on when we first started dating, the fact that I was a songwriter actually worked against me, because anytime I would say anything or write a letter, it was ‘Oh, you’re a songwriter. This just comes natural.’ So, I’ve always had to really watch what I say and how I say it and try to make it sound as genuine and regular Joe as possible. So, I definitely think as a creative person I have that romantic side that most creative people do. Sometimes I can get a little carried away and head into cheesy land a little too far, so I try to keep it as regular as possible. [Valentine’s Day] pretty traditional with us. She’s a big chocolate person, so you obviously can’t go wrong there, and a nice dinner. It’s pretty straight down the line for me.”

     

    Audio / Dierks Bentley explains the realities of Valentine’s Day.

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    Dierks Bentley (Valentine’s Day realities) OC: …that’s awesome. :53
    “I’m gonna be the voice of truth and honesty for Valentine’s Day for a lot of the guys out there listening and for some of the girls listening, as well too. You may like this; you may not, but Valentine’s Day is a really difficult day for guys. When you’re single, it’s stressful for like a month leading up to it, and inevitably, you do something wrong. You don’t get the wrong thing or you say too much, and she’s wanting to get engaged faster than you want to get engaged. I don’t know. It’s just a very stressful holiday. I’m at a time in my life where I got a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a zero-year-old, and we’re just really trying to survive on a day-to-day basis. I mean, we get about four hours of sleep, and we’re literally in survival mode. So, I think there should be a hall pass for guys in that phase of their life. It doesn’t take much at this stage for us to get excited. A dinner alone is heaven. I mean, if we can just have a dinner and a glass of wine, that’s awesome.”

     

    Audio / AUDIO: Alan Jackson talks about his love for wife, Denise, over the years.

    Download

    AJ (Valentine’s Day) OC: …continue to. :24

    “We got a lot of history together now, and we’re happier than we’ve ever been. So, she’s still beautiful, and she’s always inspired songs. I mean, one of my early hitswas a song called ‘I’d Love You All Over Again,’ I wrote for her for our 10th anniversary. I mean, there’s been a zillion songs that have pieces of our good days and bad days inspired, and they continue to.”

     

    Audio / Dierks Bentley explains how his heart got bigger and his love deepened when he became a father.

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    Dierks Bentley (Valentine’s Day) 2 OC: …could before. :27

    “You get married and that’s a long-term, bigger image of what love can be. Then you have a child, and your heart gets spread so thin and it’s so vulnerable, like it’s a really tough, tough feeling, and it can kill you. It can really be painful at times, and at the same time, it’s so great. But it definitely stretches your heart…and it doesn’t change anything, it just makes your heart, I think it just makes it bigger. I think you just find that you can love more than you ever thought you could before.”

     

    Audio / Josh Turner says his wife would call him a romantic, but now that they have four children, it takes a bit of work to make time for each other.

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    Josh Turner (Romantic) OC: …long time to come. :26
    “If you ask my wife Jennifer if I was a romantic, she would definitely say, ‘Yes.’ but she knows that sometimes my hectic schedule and our busy lifestyles can kind of interfere with the romantic side of things. But we do try to make efforts towards being together and having adult conversations and taking time away from the children and doing things that husbands and wives do, so we’ll definitely try to continue that for a long time to come.”

     

    Audio / Keith Urban says love means being aware of each other even as the newness of the relationship wears off.

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    Keith Urban (Valentine’s Day) OC: …just me or… [laughs] :60

    “I mean for me, I think a lot of it has to do with just staying present, because you know, when we start relationships, we’re so capable of honoring each other at the beginning off a relationship with cards and flowers and chocolates and attention and affection and priority. And then all of that all too many times starts to drift away, and it drifts away because it’s easy at the beginning. It just happens naturally. You’re almost overdoing it sometimes in the beginning. I was listening to the radio, [and] they’re talking about when is a relationship too soon to give Valentine’s gifts? [laughs] If you’ve been dating a guy six days, and it just started before the 14th…[laughs] and some woman said, ‘I was dating this guy three weeks and it was Valentine’s Day, and he gave me an iPad for Valentine’s Day.’ [laughs] That’s a ridiculous gift for Valentine’s Day. Is it just me, or…[laughs]”

     

    Audio / Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman says falling in love with her husband, Stephen Schlapman, came as a big surprise.

    Download

    Little Big Town (Kimberly falling in love) OC: …healed me. 1:20

    Kimberly: “Well, I wasn’t planning on falling in love, at all. I didn’t want to…I wasn’t sure that I ever would.  So, my husband now and I were just really good friends, and after my late husband died all my friends were calling me, all the time. Just checking up on me. He was just an old friends. We had known each other for about six years and he started calling me just like everybody else did.  But, he started calling me more than everybody else did [laughs]. We had both been through similar losses, he hadn’t lost a mate but he had lost a close friend, so we kind of bonded over that. I grieved, kind of, at him a lot. He took my grief, I had a lot of grief left, and he just took it and listened and accepted it and was so understanding and let me talk about my late husband all the time. We still talk about him a lot, and he’s totally fine with it. He says that, that made me who he fell in love with and he never minds if I bring anything from the past up which is just really sweet. I was shocked, I remember when I first realized that I was having feelings. I just thought, OK, this is so weird.  What is this?  I haven’t felt this in a long, long, time. This is weird. But, eventually I allowed myself and it’s been the most beautiful gift of my life. It pulled me out of the deepest hole that I’ve ever been in and healed me.”

     

    Audio / Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook had a chemistry performing together, but it wasn’t until they each found themselves single…at the same time…that sparks flew romantically. The pair, who wed in 2006, have a son, Elijah.

    Download

    Little Big Town (Jimi & Karen fell in love) OC: (Kimberly) …to be together. :48

    JIMI: “We were in the band a long time before there was ever anything which is interesting. I think there was always something underlying there that we were kind of trying to ignore. And then when the opportunity came, when all of us, ended up single kind of at the same time, a very strange turn of events for the band in a lot of different ways. And those feelings, you were able to come out with them finally. It was like, we’re single. Let’s get together. And, you know, she has a beautiful heart and she’s absolutely gorgeous and I just love her dearly.”

    PHILLIP: “Get a room!” [laughs]

    KIMBERLY: “They’re a perfect match. They really are. They were meant to be together.”

     

    Audio / Little Big Town’s Phillip Sweet was ready for love when he met Rebecca, his wife since 2007.

    Download

    Little Big Town (Phillip – reasons fell in love) OC: …real love. :17

    “I think everything that I had gone through before had prepared me to be ready to see that there was genuine love there for me, and my Rebecca.  So, it was just a great time, I wouldn’t have been ready before I met her…Now it’s just been a really great journey to heal through the past and to know real love.”

     

    Audio / Luke Bryan will be on a float for the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras Parade, along with a nighttime performance, for Valentine’s Day, and he’s a bit worried about it. He’s planning on taking his wife Caroline to New Orleans for the holiday.

    Download

    Luke Bryan (Valentine’s Day 2015) OC: …be toast. :43
    “The biggest challenge of that day is obviously being Grand Marshal of the Parade and then, I’ve got to be on the float, like, once you’re on the float, you’re on the float. And then I’m like, ‘Alright, don’t get drunk. Don’t get drunk. Don’t get drunk.’ And I don’t know if there’s any way around that, and then I’ve got to do the show at like 11:30p, so man, we may have a no cell phone clause on that show, a no Youtube (video). See, first of all, I’ve NEVER been to Mardi Gras, and I’m the worst about getting excited about something and then overdoing it. So, yeah, I’ll be toast.”

     

  • VALENTINE’S DAY LINERS: Brothers Osborne, Canaan, Darius, David, Dierks, Church, Paslay, Gary, Strait, Jennifer, Jon, Josh, Kacey, Keith, Kelleigh, Kip, LBT, Luke, Sam

    Audio / LINER Brothers Osborne (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey, this is T.J., and I’m John, and we’re Brothers Osborne. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Canaan Smith (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey, what’s up guys? I’m Canaan Smith, wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Darius Rucker (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “What’s up y’all? This is Darius Rucker, hoping you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER David Nail (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey, this is David Nail, wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Dierks Bentley (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey, it’s Dierks Bentley, hoping you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”


    Audio / LINER Eric Church (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey! This is Eric Church, hoping you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

     

    Audio / LINER Eric Paslay (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hi! This is Eric Paslay, hoping you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Gary Allan (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey, this is Gary Allan, wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER George Strait (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “This is George Strait, wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Jennifer Nettles (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey! This is Jennifer Nettles, hoping you have a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Jon Pardi (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hi! It’s Jon Pardi, and I hope you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Josh Turner (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hey! This is Josh Turner, and I want to wish you and your sweetheart a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Kacey Musgraves (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hi, this is Kacey Musgraves, and I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Audio / LINER Keith Urban (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. This is Keith Urban. Make the day special for your ‘Once in a Lifetime’ love.”

    Audio / LINER Kelleigh Bannen (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hey y’all, it’s Kelleigh Bannen, hoping you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

     

    Audio / LINER Kip Moore (Valentine’s Day)

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    “Hey! What’s happening, everybody? This is Kip Moore. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

     

    Audio / LINER LBT (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hey! We’re Little Big Town. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

     

    Audio / LINER Luke Bryan (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hey y’all, it’s Luke Bryan. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

     

    Audio / LINER Luke Bryan (Valentine’s Day) 2

    Download

    “Hey y’all. It’s Luke Bryan. Happy Valentine’s Day. Make sweet love to your other.”

     

    Audio / LINER Sam Hunt (Valentine’s Day)

    Download

    “Hi! This is Sam Hunt, wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day.”

     

  • JOSH TURNER, LAUREN ALAINA, DAVID NAIL, ERIC PASLAY, JON PARDI, CANAAN SMITH AND MICKEY GUYTON TO TAKE PART IN THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS UNIFIED RELAY ACROSS AMERICA.

    Hitting Every State Over 46 days, Thousands Will Carry the Flame of Hope Lighting the Way to a Future of Inclusion and Respect for People with Intellectual Disabilities

    ESPN and ABC to Showcase Story of Historic Relay Leading up to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games

    WASHINGTONJan. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Special Olympics and Michelle Kwan announced today on ABC’s Good Morning America that registration has opened for the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. The Unified Relay will give anyone in the country a chance to carry the Flame of Hope that will be lit in Athens, Greece and help deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games – now only six months away. Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, over 20,000 participants will run, walk or bike a segment of the relay in this team and individual fundraising event as it passes through all 50 states.

    The relay will culminate at the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles onJuly 25, 2015. ESPN, the official broadcaster of the World Games, will produce the Opening Ceremony live as well as a nightly highlights program throughout the nine-day event.

    “In a time when there is so much dividing people, our World Games offer an opportunity for our nation to come together to celebrate differences and unify in the spirit of respect and inclusion,” said Special Olympics CEO Janet Froetscher.  “With so many people coming to the U.S. for the World Games, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for every citizen to carry the Flame of Hope through their communities where it will light the caldron that burns during the Games. As the torch makes its way across our country it will bring us together in a unique way that will open hearts and minds.”

    The U.S. portion of the Unified Relay will begin on 26 May, where it will be split into three simultaneous routes starting in Augusta, MaineMiami, Florida; and Washington, D.C. Traveling west, all three routes will become unified in Los Angeles on 10 July. Along each route, welcoming ceremonies and community celebrations will take place nightly with musical performances, celebrity guests and Unified Sports Experiences.

    In its role as presenting sponsor, Bank of America will provide significant financial and volunteer support to the Unified Relay. In addition, the company will use its deep connections in local communities to encourage participation among individuals, families and businesses.

    “By putting our scale and resources behind the Unified Relay, we’ll help bring a message of unity and inclusion to an incredibly large audience, and hopefully break some fundraising records along the way,” said Anne Finucane, Bank of America global chief strategy and marketing officer and a member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors.

    When the three relays arrive in Los Angeles, the Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Team, comprised of law enforcement officers representing 36 countries, along with 10 Special Olympics athletes, will accept the torches and continue the Flame of Hope’s journey to communities throughout California, including Host Towns where Special Olympics World Games delegations from more than 170 countries will participate in pre-Games cultural exchanges.

    Each Unified Relay route will be led by a group of co-captains, including media personalities, actors, musicians, athletes and Special Olympics athletes.  Co-captains will serve as spokespeople for the Special Olympics movement and the Unified Relay, encouraging participation through registration, fundraising and spectatorship.

    Special Olympics today announced the following as Unified Relay co-captains:  Damian Lillard, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional basketball star, Elena Delle Donne, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional basketball star, Joe Haden, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and American professional football star, Maria Menounos, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and journalist, Aloe Blacc, American singer and songwriter, Josh Turner, American singer and actor, Special Olympics North Carolina athlete Zach Commander, Special Olympics Pennsylvania athlete Johanna Schoeneck and Special Olympics Iowa athlete Corey Leonhard.

    Lauren Alaina, David Nail, Eric Paslay, Jon Pardi, Canaan Smith and Mickey Guyton will help carry the Flame of Hope as Torchbearers. “The Special Olympics are very dear to my heart. You should be a part if it,” says Lauren. “Being involved has changed my life.”

    “The flame of the torch is inspirational, in a way that few symbols can match. And I’m thrilled to be part of the announcement of what promises to be the greatest and biggest Torch Run in United States history,” said Michelle Kwan, Olympic figure-skating legend and Special Olympics International Board Member.  “A Run that will not only touch every state in the Union, every corner of this country but also engage and inspire every American.  The Unified Relay Across America is going to unify the entire world in one giant celebration of the spirit of Special Olympics.”

    Supporters will have the opportunity to run with the Flame of Hope by signing up as an individual torchbearer or as a team of torchbearers for a half-mile walk or run segment or a five-mile bike segment in an area of interest across the United States. Funds raised from the Unified Relay will go to Special Olympics to provide sports training, competition opportunities and additional programming that empowers people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Participants can find out more information and sign up for the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America atwww.unifiedrelay.org.

    ESPN and ABC are the Official Media Partners of the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America. ESPN is a long-time supporter of Special Olympics and is also the Official Broadcaster of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Their local and national support of the Unified Relay will lead into the 25 July World Games Opening Ceremonies, televised on ESPN’s networks.

    Throughout the 46 days, ESPN and ABC media will tell the story of the relay across its multiple media platforms, covering and promoting each of the three routes as they cross the country. It will include national coverage on ESPN and ABC programs at select stops throughout the relay, local coverage on relevant ABC-owned stations and affiliates along the routes, a “torch tracker” and “Countdown to LA2015” clock on ESPN.com and select ABC digital media, and promotion across ESPN web sites and radio stations as well as ABC affiliate stations – letting people know when the torch is coming to their town and where they can go to support the torch bearers.

    Additionally, employees from ESPN and ABC will participate as torchbearers.

    “We are extremely proud of the relationship we have with Special Olympics Unified Sports, the Unified Relay Across America and the upcoming LA2015 World Games,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “We can’t wait to tell the many amazing stories of this relay and the Games this summer.”

    Additional corporate supporters of the Unified Relay Across America presented by Bank of America include Microsoft, Toyota and Homeaway.

    About Special Olympics
    Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all.  Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance.  Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries.  With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year.  Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics®, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Lions Clubs International, Mattel, Microsoft, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics atwww.specialolympics.org.  Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympicsfb.com/specialolympics;youtube.com/specialolympicshqinstagram.com/specialolymics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

    About the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games
    With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games – being staged in Los Angeles July 25 – August 2, 2015 – will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 25 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region. The Opening Ceremony, to be held July 25, 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.LA2015.org and on social with #ReachUpLA on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.

    About Bank of America
    Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail banking offices and approximately 15,800 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange

    About The Walt Disney Company
    Disney, together with its businesses and affiliates, including ESPN and ABC, have long supported the Special Olympics. Last year, Disney became a Founding Champion of the LA2015 World Games. Being a good corporate citizen is a time-honored Disney tradition. Through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteering, Disney helps to brighten the lives of kids and families in need and strengthen communities around the world. In 2013, the Company donated nearly $370 million in cash, in-kind support and products, and Disney VoluntEARS gave over 667,000 hours of service. For more information visit, thewaltdisneycompany.com/citizenship or twitter.com/disneycitizenship.

    About ESPN
    ESPN’s relationship with Special Olympics spans more than 30 years.  ESPN is the official media partner of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles — bringing coverage of the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event – to millions of fans around the world. Additionally, in September 2013, Disney and ESPN announced a global two-year, multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment supporting the Special Olympics Unified Sports initiative, which leverages the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities. ESPN has been entertaining sports fans for nearly 35 years and strives to be a responsible corporate citizen. The corporate citizenship program of ESPN encompasses our multi-faceted community initiatives, including employee volunteerism, charitable giving and cause marketing, while also utilizing our diverse media assets. ESPN strives to have a positive impact on our employees, fans and communities worldwide.

    About Disney | ABC Television Group
    Disney | ABC Television Group is composed of The Walt Disney Company’s (NYSE: DIS) global entertainment and news television properties, cable networks, owned television stations, and radio stations. This includes ABC Entertainment Group, ABC News, ABC Owned Television Stations, Disney Channels Worldwide, and ABC Family, as well as Disney | ABC Domestic Television and Disney Media Distribution. With Disney | ABC Television Group programming reaching millions of viewers each week, the networks are ideal platforms to inspire viewers to drive positive change in their communities. Additionally, Disney | ABC employees across the globe continue to contribute their time and efforts to the local neighborhoods in which they work and live.

  • NEWS AND NOTES: Jennifer, Dierks, Josh, LBT, Kacey, Gary

    Jennifer Nettles is still in New York City following the announcement that she’ll make her Broadway debut as “Roxie Hart” in the Tony award-winning musical revival of Chicago. On Wednesday, she took to Instagram to post a photo of her at the official photo shoot photo shoot.

    Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner are among the featured artists on bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley‘s new album, Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man of Constant Sorrow. Lee Ann WomackRobert PlantRicky Skaggs and Elvis Costello are also featured on the album, which will be available at Cracker Barrel and crackerbarrel.com January 19th.

    The members of Little Big Town are set to tour the U.K. beginning February 10th. They’ll play dates in London, Manchester, England and Glasgow, Scotland before returning to the States.

    Kacey Musgraves has begun work on her new album, the follow-up to the hugely successful and award-winning Same Trailer Different Park.

    Gary Allan is sporting a new tattoo. The California native, who’s been in the studio working on his next album, shared a photo and video of his new tattoo that he got in Las Vegas this week. The ink took 12 hours to do and is featured on the underside of his left forearm. It’s of a neck of an electric guitar held by a green female hand as a serpent encircles them both. He shared the photo as part of his #TattedTuesday where he encourages fans to share picks of tattoos his music inspired.