Olympics seeks 'inspirational' torch bearers

March 16, 2001

Olympics seeks 'inspirational' torch bearers

By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Applications are being accepted from anyone who wants to carry a torch through Martinsburg in December to help celebrate the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City next February.

The torch will be carried by 40 to 50 people along a route of approximately 10 miles covering all the City Council wards, said Mayor George Karos. No final route has been selected, but a tentative route would start at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 on Edwin Miller Boulevard, culminating in a ceremony at the public square at King and Queen streets two hours later, Karos said.

The people who carry the torch in Martinsburg will be among 11,500 people who will bear it in preparation for the games, which begin Feb. 8. Martinsburg will host the relay on the 17th day of the 60-day run.

To be eligible to carry the torch or to nominate someone else, a person must write a 50- to 100-word essay about themselves or anyone they believe is worthy of carrying it.


"The idea is to find people who have inspired others," Karos said.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee used as examples a teacher, a coach, a student who works hard even if he or she doesn't get the best grades, a police officer or firefighter who performed an extraordinary act or a volunteer in the community.

People can pick up applications at City Hall, the Berkeley County Courthouse or the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Public Library. They can also apply online at

All local applications will be sent to a screening committee in Nebraska. Once they have been reviewed, the names will be sent back to Martinsburg. The local committee will designate a nonprofit club, which will appoint people to make the final selections.

Each torch bearer will carry the torch two-tenths of a mile, less than one lap around a football field. Those with physical limitations will be accommodated, Karos said. The national organizing committee will have about 150 people in the community to support the event, he said.

Each person who carries the torch must be at least 12 years old by Dec. 4. Anyone under 18 must have parental consent.

Other rules apply, including one excluding elected officials or candidates for office.

The SLOC Web site has more information. Coca-Cola and Chevrolet are sponsoring concurrent torch bearer nominations. Information about their processes can be obtained through, or at any Chevrolet dealership.

The application deadline for the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee process is May 15.


"The Salt Lake City Organizing Committee torch bearer nomination program requires applicants to write an essay of 50 to 100 words that describes how they or their nominated person meets one or more of the following criteria:

- Inspires others to greater achievement.

- Has been a source of inspiration for his/her community.

- Embodies the inspirational spirit of the Olympic movement.

- Motivates others by encountering and overcoming adversity."

Source: Salt Lake Organizing Committee

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