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PR- 137-04
June 3, 2004


New York City’s Torch Relay to Commence in Athens Square Park, the Heart of City’s Greek Community, as Tribute to the Upcoming Olympic Games in Greece

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the Torchbearers selected to carry the Olympic Flame in New York City as part of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay. The Torch Relay will take place rain or shine in New York City on Saturday, June 19th.  The Olympic Flame will travel roughly 34 miles through all five boroughs cheered on by New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. Some of the points of interest that New York City’s Torchbearers will pass include Athens Square Park, Fort Greene Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center Site, the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Yankee Stadium, Chelsea Piers, Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Rockefeller Plaza, the United Nations and Times Square. Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, Consul General of Greece Catherine Boura, Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) General Director for Volunteerism Dimitris Tziras, more than a dozen of New York City’s Torchbearers, and representatives of presenting partners The Coca-Cola Company and Samsung Electronics joined Mayors Bloomberg for the announcement in Astoria, Queens, where the Torch Relay will commence.  

“On behalf of eight million New Yorkers, we are thrilled that New York City has been selected to participate in the first-ever global Olympic Torch Relay,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We are extremely proud of this diverse group that will have the honor of carrying the Olympic flame as part of this historic event. Carrying the Olympic Flame is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and on June 19th, the Flame will make its first appearance in Athens Square Park in the heart of New York City’s Greek community. Alongside the statues of Athena and Socrates, it is the perfect place to welcome the Flame before it is carried 34 miles, highlighting some of the best of New York City, its communities, cultures, diversity and iconic sites. Mayor Bakoyannis and Mr. Tziras, we wish you the best this summer for a successful and memorable Olympic Games and I can’t wait to return to Athens for the Games this summer.”

“Mayor Bloomberg, New York City Torchbearers, citizens of New York, and citizens of the world: Athens sends to all of you a message of peace,” said Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis. “May the light of the Olympic Flame, which was lit anew in Ancient Olympia, and will travel through your city in the hands of these honorable men and women, illuminate all those values that first appeared in Athens 25 centuries ago and have brought enlightenment to the world through time.”

“The torchbearers reflect what is best in all of us, the Olympic values of participation and shared humanity that will be celebrated this summer in Athens and around the world,” said ATHENS 2004 President, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.  “We will be proud to have them carry the flame lit in ancient Olympia, and, as the torch passes from hand to hand in 27 nations, they will bring to life the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay theme, ‘Pass the Flame, Unite the World.’”

“I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for hosting the Olympic Torch Relay in the City of New York, and we are particularly honored by the presence of the Mayor of Athens Bakoyannis as her presence today is evidence of the importance attributed by Athens to the Torch Relay coming to this great city,” said Consul General of Greece Catherine Boura. “New York not only embodies the Olympic spirit of international harmony, since it is home to 186 ethnic communities, representing nearly all the nations that will compete in Athens this summer, but also is home to the largest community of Greek-Americans, several hundred thousand of whom live in the tri-state area. We all look forward to an exciting 19th of June in New York, an event that will precede a successful and memorable Olympiad in Athens this summer.”

The Olympic Torchbearers, representing the ideals of unity, participation, volunteerism, celebration, heroism and heritage will have a place in history as part of the first-ever global Olympic torch relay. Olympic Torchbearers in New York City were chosen from numerous nominations; some of New York City’s Torchbearers on hand at today’s event included: 

Raul Acosta, New York, NY: Raul, a native of the Dominican Republic, is the founding member of Oro Solido, an internationally renowned merengue band. Oro Solido has toured the world sharing the gift of music, and celebrating Latin American culture and heritage.

Anita Blomberg, Verona, NJ: Anita is a retired physical education teacher who actively promotes the Olympic spirit to her students.  Blomberg created an Annual Olympics for grades K-5 which had an opening ceremony that included flags, a torch lighting ceremony and reciting the Olympic Oath, and events for the students to compete. 

Georgios Daskaleas, New York, NY: Georgios had a difficult childhood having lost an abusive father at age twelve and a terminally ill mother. Having raised himself with no family support or money, at age 25, he works full-time and is completing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Cosmo DiOrio, Staten Island, NY: Cosmo, a resident of Staten Island, has been a member of the New York City Fire Department for 21 years. He is in Rescue Company 1 and has received a life saving award. He is also up for the Hudson River Water Rescue Award and is mentioned in the book, So Others Might Live: A History of New York’s Bravest.

Jameson Gong, New York, NY: Jameson, a Chinatown native, is a community activist focusing on the revitalization of Lower Manhattan and founder of He is a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s advisory committee to promote tourism in the area; he is president of the NY Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, the nation’s premiere Asian civil rights and advocacy group; and he is a stand-up comedian.

Zein Khairullah, Prospect Park, NJ: Zein, a proud Arab-American, has been a volunteer EMT on his local ambulance squad since he arrived in this country 12 years ago from Syria. He has helped hundreds of people in his community and volunteered at Ground Zero. He trained as a gymnast and shares his skills as a coach for mentally and physically challenged children participating in the the Special Olympics.

Therese Kinsella, West Caldwell, NJ: Therese is a true advocate for educating our youth. She spent five years raising money for elementary students so that they can have the education and opportunities that will enable them to achieve success in the future. Her efforts yielded nearly $50 million that have funded a new middle school and playground.

Demetrios Markantonatos, Astoria, NY: Demetrios is a New York City Police Department Sergeant and works in the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn.  He is of Greek descent and serves as Vice President of the NYPD’s St. Paul’s Society, a brotherhood of Eastern Orthodox Law Enforcement Officers.

Peter Raimondi, Staten Island, NY: Peter is a 14 year old from Staten Island who lost his father on September 11, 2001. Six months later at an anniversary service he and his older brother shared a poem they wrote about their father in front of hundreds of families who lost loved ones, officials and was heard by countless others via the media. Peter again joined the City’s 9/11 commemoration in 2003 as a reader.

Margaret Redden, Jersey City, NJ: Maggie is an 18 year old paraplegic polio survivor, adopted by her mother from India at the age of 2 1/2 and is now a freshman at Penn State University. She competes nationally and internationally in wheelchair track and field. She is a ski instructor (using a monoski) at Windham Mountain, volunteering 24 days a year for this activity. She is also a musician who has performed on the Irish harp at Carnegie Hall, NJ Performing Arts Center, and on a PBS special with Frank Patterson.

Daniel Rowan, Massapequa, NY: Daniel lost ten of his fellow firefighters during the World Trade Center tragedy.  Acting as a liaison for the victim’s families, he participated in a New York to California bike ride, riding more than 100 miles per day to raise money for September 11th charities. 

Gina Strachan, Hartsdale, NY: Gina is a four-time Sports Emmy and two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner.  She attributes her Olympic spirit to her grandfather, Olympic legend Jesse Owens.  Both on and off the field Owens was an inspiration to Gina, teaching her to live life through example. 

Kevin Szott, Clifton, NJ: Athens will be Kevin’s fourth and last Paralympic Games.  He will finish a career that has spanned over 27 years and has included participation in both sighted and blind sports.  Kevin’s journey through blind sport has netted him 36 national titles and over 20 International, World and Paralympic medals in six different events.  He is only the second athlete to medal in four different Paralympic sports (Judo, Wrestling, Goalball and track and Field).  He is training hard for the 2004 games and looks forward to his future challenges. 

Peter Westbrook, New York, NY: Peter is the founder and executive director of the Peter Westbrook Foundation. He is a six time member of the U.S. Olympic Team and the winner of Bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics. Peter’s fencing accomplishments alone qualify him as one of the outstanding sports figures of our time but his achievements off the fencing strip truly set him apart as one the great athlete/statesmen of the modern era.  While most athletes of Peter’s stature seek to capitalize financially on their fame and recognition, Peter has chosen to devote himself to the goal of empowering young people through the sport of fencing.

Lily Woo, New York, NY: Lily is the Principal of P.S. 130 in Manhattan. Over 82.7% of students in her school are from low-income homes and over 85% come from families where English is not the primary language. In 1990, only about 38% of the children were reading on grade level. Under Lily’s leadership, this school is now one of the City’s top performing schools with over 81% of students meeting City and State educational standards.

The Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia, Greece on March 25th signaling the countdown to the 2004 Olympic Games. It journeyed for 7 days to Athens, where it remains in residence at the Panathinaiko stadium, the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.  Beginning tomorrow, the flame will begin its global journey in Sydney, Australia eventually visiting 34 cities worldwide, including ancient Olympia, en route to Greece, where it will travel to local communities before lighting the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games on August 13th. The flame will travel an average of 30 miles in each city. For the first time, the torch relay will travel across all five land masses represented by the Olympic rings.

Along with the torchbearers announced in New York City today, more than 10,000 Olympic Torchbearers were announced worldwide on May 5th. Olympic Torchbearers around the world were nominated by family, friends and colleagues, and selected by local cities, Coca-Cola and Samsung for showcasing outstanding leadership for each city.

“On behalf of the nearly 4,000 employees of Coca-Cola Enterprises in the New York Metropolitan area it is an honor for us to once again be a part of the Olympic Torch Relay in New York City and around the world,” said New York City Area Vice President for Coca-Cola Enterprises Jerry Garavel. “Coca-Cola has a long history with the Olympic Games dating back to the 1920’s, and is globally recognized as bringing people together, much the same way the Olympics and the Olympic Torch relay bring the world together for a refreshing pause to celebrate sport. On June 19th, we are committed to making the experience of carrying the Olympic Torch a memorable event for the participants and viewers of the ATHENS 2004 Global Torch Relay.”
“Samsung Electronics congratulates all of the New York City torchbearers as they prepare for the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch,” says Peter Weedfald, Senior Vice President, Samsung Electronics North America. ”Samsung is proud to be a presenting partner of the first-ever Global Olympic Torch Relay.  With Samsung Electronics America headquartered in New Jersey and our strong presence in NYC, we’ve selected extraordinary people from the tri-state area to be Samsung Torchbearers based on their inspiring stories. It is an honor to provide these individuals a chance to share the Olympic spirit.”

Today’s announcement took place in Athens Square Park in Astoria, Queens as a tribute to the spirit of the Games in Greece this summer. The one-acre park is named for the capital of modern Greece and the center of ancient Greek civilization. In 1990, the City funded a $1 million reconstruction of the park to create a neighborhood gathering place for members of Astoria’s sizable Greek-American population. Athens Square Park encompasses three zones: a central court with amphitheatre with a bronze statue of the philosopher Socrates; a recreational space; and a seating area along the perimeter. In 1996, three fluted Doric columns supporting a curved entablature, all of granite, were installed adjacent to the amphitheatre, and in 1998 then-Mayor of Athens Demetris Avramopoulos presented a bronze statue of Athena for installation in the park as a gift to the City of New York.

The route for New York City’s portion of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information about Olympic Torchbearers from New York City or to volunteer to be a part of this special event, please contact 311 or log onto the City’s website at Attached is a listing of the individuals selected to carry the Torch; a portion of the names were withheld upon request.

Visit the ATHENS 2004 Olympic web site for more information at Além, an event management company, manages the ATHENS 2004 Global Torch Relay worldwide.


Edward Skyler/Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958


David Emanuel (Além)   (303) 666 4021

Susan McDermott (Coca-Cola)   (404) 676-4120

Tara O’Donnell (Samsung)   (201) 229-4090

More Resources
Read list of torchbearers
Watch press conference in 56k or 300k