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Torch runner says he's humbled

December 27, 2001

Torch runner says he's humbled



Editor's note: This is last in a series of stories profiling Tri-State residents who will carry the Olympic torch in Hagerstown and Martinsburg, W.Va., on Dec. 20 during one leg of the torch's 13,500-mile journey to Salt Lake City, home of the 2002 Winter Games, which begin in February.

By KEVIN VERZICH
mtbbureau@stargate.net


Wearing the Olympic emblem on his socks and humming the Olympic theme song quietly to himself, Thomas Huffman prepares for the drive from Frederick, Md., to Hagerstown for another day on the job at the Washington County Association for Retarded Citizens.

Born and raised in Clear Spring, Huffman lives in Frederick and commutes to the Washington County ARC in Hagerstown, where he's worked for nine years as a crisis intervention specialist.

Huffman said he isn't sure who nominated him to carry the Olympic torch, but he said it could have been any number of people close to him.

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"Several people said they were going to nominate me, including co-workers and even my mother-in-law," Huffman said.

"I don't know who actually did, but I am just honored that those individuals would even consider me for a nomination."

Huffman said he has loved the Olympics since he was a child. He used to pretend he was a sprinter winning the gold medal, while listening to the Olympic theme song.

"I never really had much athletic talent, but I was a scrapper," Huffman recalls. "I fell in love with the (Olympic) Games during the 1976 Montreal Games. I always had a vision of competing."

Huffman graduated in 1979 from Clear Spring High School, where he competed in track, cross country and basketball. He said he gave up basketball to focus on running.

Huffman said, in his earlier days, he ran 50 to 60 miles a week to stay in shape.

"Today, I probably run about 18 to 20 miles a week," Huffman said. "After my appendectomy last year, I started running more. I had forgotten how much I loved to run."

Huffman married Gail in 1990. They have two children, Nicholas, 14, and Cheyenne Olympia, 3. Huffman said his daughter was named in honor of the Olympic Games.

"I believe very deeply in what the Games stand for," Huffman said. "This honor is very exciting to me, but also very humbling."

Huffman received his information packet from the Olympic Committee in July. He said the night he received it, he had to hand the letter over to his wife to read to make sure he hadn't misread it. He couldn't believe it was real.

"I couldn't sleep that night," Huffman said. "This is going to be a very big event in my life. I am humbled to have been nominated and to have been selected. I am also honored at the same time."

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