SLC Sends Message to Torino

SLC Sends Message to Torino

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Shelley Osterloh ReportingSalt Lake City's mayor is carrying on an Olympic tradition -- sending a special message of hope, youth, and the environment to the mayor of the next winter Olympics. The message will cross two continents and an ocean on a non-fossil fuel journey, gathering strength and momentum from thousands of children along the way.

Jeff Niermeyer is training for the bike ride of lifetime, carrying a message he hopes will inspire a better future. The 52-year old deputy director of Salt Lake City's public works has teamed up with 48-year old Marc Wangsgard, a Park City attorney and real estate developer, to ride their bikes 6,000 miles from Salt Lake City to New York..

There they'll hand off their message to the captain of sailboat, who will carry it on its transatlantic journey, destined for the city of Torino, site of the next Winter Olympics. Along the way they are scheduled to talk at dozens of schools, hoping to touch the hearts and minds of thousands of children.

Jeff Niermeyer: "The message is really one that there is a bright future ahead of us, that they are going to be the leaders of the future, and it’s really its going to take them to step out and be strong."

Marc Wangsgard: “For me it’s a message of inspiration and it’s message of global unity."

The message tradition started in 1997 when the Mayor of Lillhehammer sent a message to Nagano, which in turn sent one to Salt Lake in 2000.

Mayor Anderson: "I’ll never forget that day when they bicycled in, we all bicycled in actually together to the city and county building."

Now Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has composed his message of hope for the future.

Mayor Anderson: "Our message is one of peace health and justice with an emphasis on action we can all take to help make this a more environmentally sustainable and healthy and just world."

The message will be carried in two cylinders, one hand-tooled leather the other copper, with the symbol peace, youth and environment, and a message from Salt Lake City to Torinio. Written in English and Italian, the Mayor signed his message surrounded by school children.

The two volunteer riders who will carry it say they are committed to environmental protection. Niermeyer helps oversee the city's watershed and Wangsgard is an attorney and real estate developer who has also contributed hundreds of acres land for a nature preserve.

In a cold rainstorm the Mayor and more than 60 children from Salt Lake's Oakridge Elementary helped the team get started with a ride around the City and County Building. Then, anxious to begin their six-week journey, they took off with their global message of peace youth and the environment.

You can read the Mayors message, track the teams progress, see photos, read their daily journals, or send them an E-mail through their website, linked at the top of this story.

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