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Carrying The Flame

Runners from Carroll, Oldham
to carry 2002 Olympic torch

Ben Fronczek
Staff Writer


(December 2001) Crestwood, Ky – A few months ago Jean Sutton of Crestwood, Ky., was your normal everyday pre-school teacher. James Duvall of Ghent, Ky., was your average chemical engineer about to turn 50. Now they are two of the lucky 7,200 cross-country runners who get to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay en route to the 2002 Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City.

Jean Sutton & Lynn Ward

Jean Sutton & Lynn Ward

The relay is a 65-day event covering 13,500 miles. The procession through Kentucky will take place Dec. 17-18. According to Salt Lake Organizing Committee spokesperson Mark Walker, the torch will enter Kentucky from Nashville, Tenn., making stops in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Frankfort, Lexington, Covington and Cincinnati.
Three Carroll Countians and seven Oldham Countians have been selected by Chevrolet and Coca-Cola to run the torch in the relay. Participants were nominated by their peers back in March and April. The nominating party had to compose a 100-word essay on why they believed that person deserved to carry the torch. Walker said that those chosen were usually nominated and selected for inspirational and unselfish acts they had performed.
Three panelists read each essay, and the runners chosen were notified in the late summer and told not to reveal this nomination to anyone outside their immediate family until Sept 15. This is when the public announcement was going to be made – that is, until the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks delayed it another month. Now area runners are gearing up for their “one moment in time.”
“It was sufficient for me just to be nominated,” said Duvall. “ To be chosen was a complete surprise to me. But I’m kind of a sports nut, anyway. I follow the Olympics regularly.”
There are several torches used in the relay due to the amount of gas each can contain for a specific amount of time. Coca-Cola will give Duvall a torch worth $400 as a momento after the occasion.
“It’s almost overwhelming because when I’m carrying the torch, I am going to be the only one carrying the Olympic flame at that moment,” said Sutton, 45.
“I’m just thrilled to do this,” said Lynn Ward, a Louisville native and La Grange resident carrying the torch. “I’m running in honor of breast cancer survivors and the families of those who have been touched by breast cancer.” Ward, 46, is the Assistant Division Director for Specialized Child and Family Services at Seven County Services, a community mental health center.
For some runners, there are mixed emotions involved with running the torch. Carroll County Schools Assistant Superintendent John F. James III is both happy and saddened by the opportunity.
“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be part of this,” said Jones. “The disappointing part is that my father isn’t going to be there to see me carry the torch.”
Jones remembered when his father was so anxious to see the torch pass through Carrollton in 1996 and did see it. “There’s a lot of emotional background.”
At press time, not all runners had been notified of their running location. Duvall knew that he would be running at 7:33 a.m. on Dec. 18 from Rabbling Bridge into Cincinnati. His route, like all the others, will be 2/10ths miles.
There are 11,000 runners total on the cross-country route. Of those, 7,200 are selected community figures such as the four mentioned. Others include Ronald Fultz II of Carrollton; Dan Helton of Pewee Valley; John Maggio of La Grange; and Richard Myers and Joseph Percefull, both of Crestwood. The remaining torchbearers include sponsors and celebrities such as Roma Downey of the TV show “Touched by an Angel” and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
“The relay is an incredible experience for all who see it,” said Walker.

• For more information on the torch relay, call (801) 212-2002.

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