Sunday, December 09, 2001

Tristate's Olympic torchbearers

        A daily look at the people who will carry the Olympic flame through the Tristate Dec. 17 and 18:

        Karen Donnelly, 41, Deerfield Township, an attorney and nurse. Her husband was a torchbearer in 1996. “The Olympics mirrors the American spirit, especially since Sept. 11...I hope a lot of people show their support by supporting the athletes. Participate in local events, like showing up along the relay route and lending support to the runners.”

Previous profiles
        Jessica Dumford, 16, New Richmond, student at New Richmond High School, one of 2,000 children worldwide chosen to be a McDonald's Millennium Dreamer for her community service work. She runs in heart marathons, returns to her elementary school to talk about environmentalism and met animal-rights activist Jane Goodall. Her message: “Be proud and happy. It's good to come together and participate in athletics. I encourage my friends to start helping others. It makes you a happier person.”

        James Duvall, 50, of Ghent, Ky., senior technician for Dow Corning, youth leader and Little League coach. His family's home is a “Safe House” for children in need. The theme of the Olympics, he says, is not to win but to compete. “Hopefully, that's what we can do in today's world, with the terrorism — lay down arms and compete for the fun of it.”

        Crystal (Smith) Elliott, 40, of Washoe Valley, Nevada (near Reno), former editor of Performing Arts Magazine. A 1979 graduate of Western Hills High, she nominated her brother, Edward Mark Smith, 42, and was asked to run as a brother-sister team. “To me, the true spirit of the Olympics embodies hope, perseverance and strength in unity. All three of which we, as Americans, need more than ever in light of recent events.”

        Michael Evans, 41, Florence. He was nominated by Cincinnati Red Cross staffers in appreciation of his 9,000 volunteer hours. “I'm really excited,” Mr. Evans says. “I have seven gold medals and one silver medal from (the Special Olympics) 400- and 800-meter walking events.”

        Sharon Everett, 52, Fort Thomas. recovering from severe burns suffered in July 2000, when swimming pool chemicals exploded in her car. Being strong enough to walk with the torch has become her goal. “It's a way of saying thanks to all the people who have helped me — the doctors, nurses, therapists, my family and everyone who have helped.”

        Chris Feller, 17, junior at Anderson High School, a pitcher for the school baseball team, was nominated because he refused to play in an intramural flag-football championship game five years ago because a physically challenged teammate was excluded from play. “My family went to the '96 Summer Games in Atlanta and saw the USA's bronze-medal baseball game. This is the closest I may ever get to (participating in) the Olympics.”

        Denise Fluegeman, 34, Loveland, a science teacher at Pleasant Run Middle School. She was nominated by a parent whose son got hooked on science last year. A torchbearer in a previous Olympics told her about the event. “I've heard from him what an incredible experience it was to be part of this. It's really special for me.”

        Tammy Foust, 37, Forest Park, a math teacher and boys basketball coach at Norwood Middle School, and Gulf War veteran. At school, she emphasizes academics. “I tutor the boys, and make sure they get their homework done. I love helping the boys, and I don't think I'm doing anything special.”

        Mike Fremont, 79, Glendale, retired but “occupied.” A marathoner, last month he ran in Detroit, finishing second in the 75-99 age group. He once finished first in his age group in the Flying Pig. He has been a canoe marathoner since 1963, training in 20- and 30-mile sprints on the Little Miami. “To me, the Olympics are an equal-opportunity employer, helping countries with depressed economies get an image. It also benefits people in the way it recognizes everyone — men, women, the handicapped, all races.”

        Janelle Gelfand, John Kiesewetter and Jim Knippenberg contributed to this report.


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