Letter to the editor: Making peace

To the editor:

Thirty-six years ago a world-class Soviet team visited the Kansas Relays during a dangerous period of superpower relations. The event was the brainchild of KU-trained Russian specialist Dr. Mark Scott, who co-founded Athletes United for Peace with me in late 1982.

The “Friendship Relays,” as the Soviet media reported, were seen nightly on Channel One throughout the Soviet Union, captivating millions of Russians and all the U.S.S.R. with peaceful and inspirational images. These were shared nightly on all American networks: American children welcoming the Soviet team with flowers at KCI; Soviet athletes performing tribal dances with Haskell students; and 20,000 Relays fans waving miniature flags cheering athletes from both countries, even as Soviets dominated every event and set Relays records.

It was Mark Scott who masterminded all aspects of the unprecedented 1983 visit and overcame three Russian “nyets” to our invitation. He got 1,000 letters from Lawrence kids sent to Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin; a popular Soviet sports writer to visit Lawrence and lobby for the event; and Sens. Bob Dole and Edward Kennedy and other American VIPS to join in. This historic event launched more than a dozen other Soviet-American citizen initiatives, but it all started because of the commitment and brilliance of Scott.

My dear friend and fellow peacemaker, Mark C. Scott, tragically died this past Sunday in Los Angeles. The finest doctors at UCLA could not overcome a heart weakened by years of dialysis and a difficult kidney transplant five weeks ago.

Bob Swan Jr.,



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