The Consul General of Greece, Stratos Efthymiou, presented four golden olive branch wreaths for the Boston Marathon winners to the Boston Athletic Association.
The wreaths were presented during the Boston Marathon Opening Ceremony and they will crown the winners of Monday’s 125th Boston Marathon.
“We are very honored to present these four olive wreaths, cut from the plains of Marathon, as a gift from Greece. These golden wreaths connect Boston, the Athens of America, with the Marathon’s Greek roots and the ideals of fair play, democracy, and liberty,” Efthymiou said.
The presentation was organized by the Alpha Omega Council (A.O.C.), the Greek-American philanthropic non-profit organization.
“The Alpha Omega Council (A.O.C.) is proud of its longstanding support and collaboration with the Greek Consulate General in presenting these wreaths. Our driving purpose is to promote the ideals of Hellenism and to preserve the Boston Marathon Wreath tradition,” said Costa Sideridis, A.O.C. president.
“For many years, the signature Boston Marathon champion’s gold wreaths have been a symbol of athletic excellence and triumph here in Boston,” said Dr. Michael P. O’Leary, Chairman of the Board of the Boston Athletic Association.
“We sincerely thank the Consul General of Greece and Alpha Omega Council for continuing this meaningful tradition and preserving the connection to our sport’s roots in Marathon.”
“The crowning of our champions will be a very meaningful moment at the 125th Boston Marathon,” Dr. O‘Leary said.
On the stage during the wreath presentation, together with the Consul General of Greece, were the leaders of the B.A.A. and the Alpha Omega Council, and Tim Kilduff from the 26.2 Foundation.
Commemorating Stylianos Kyriakides
The wreaths are offered in the name of Stylianos Kyriakides, the winner of the 1946 Boston Marathon, who was the first-ever charitable runner.
After his victory, Kyriakides stayed for a month in the United States, raising funds and medical supplies for his countrymen in Greece, who were suffering from the aftermath of World War II.
Kyriakides managed to reach an amount of 250.000 dollars while the Livanos shipowner family sent two ships full of basic necessities (food, clothing and medicine).
This aid was called ‘Package Kyriakides’. In May 1947, a year after his victory and as a result of the publicity given to the economic problems of Greece from the Boston Marathon, the U.S. government sent an amount of 400.000 dollars before the Marshall Plan.
On May 1946, Kyriakides returned to Greece, where about one million Greeks greeted him as a hero.
A formal ceremony was held at the Temple of Zeus, where Kyriakides stated ‘I am proud to be Greek’, which moved the crowd. For the first time since the Nazi Occupation, the Acropolis was illuminated in his honor.
To honor the legacy of Kyriakides, the B.A.A. is featuring Kyriakides, among other winners, in banners hanging throughout Boston.