Identity of torchbearers something of a mystery

Imagine throwing a party and not knowing who your guests of honour are. As it turns out it’s the dilemma the Red Deer Olympic Torch Relay Community Celebration Committee is facing, along with similar committees across the country.

Imagine throwing a party and not knowing who your guests of honour are.

As it turns out it’s the dilemma the Red Deer Olympic Torch Relay Community Celebration Committee is facing, along with similar committees across the country.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics receives applications for people who want to be torchbearers for the 2010 Olympics, where they screen and select who will take part. People could also apply to the Royal Bank of Canada and Coke.

The one glitch in the process is that because of privacy issues the Vancouver Organizing Committee can’t let the local communities know who has been chosen in their area for the honour of carrying the torch. Local committees aren’t even being given the number of people in their area who have been chosen.

Often getting consent to release a person’s name could be as easy as putting it as an option in the initial application.

“I do really wish they had done it a little bit differently, but I’m sure they have their reasons for it,” said Lyn Radford, who is the chair of the Red Deer Olympic Torch Relay Community Celebration Committee, on Monday.

“The challenge is that the Vancouver 2010 (committee) have to be careful about what information they can release…and that they are respecting the torchbearer’s privacy.”

It means organizers on the local Red Deer committee are now trying to track people down and appealing to the media to get the word out that they would like local torchbearers to contact them. Torchbearers can phone 403-358-7520 or e-mail to have the chance to take part in local festivities.

Radford said they’re hoping to hear from people not only in Red Deer, but from all over Central Alberta from Rocky Mountain House to Castor, from Ponoka to Didsbury.

“We would like to celebrate with them that they have been chosen and let them be part of our special events that we will have happening between now and January 15,” Radford said. The torch comes to Red Deer on Jan. 15, 2010.

Radford said if torchbearers don’t contact the committee they will still be able to take part in the torch relay, but the community will not be able to celebrate their success of being chosen.

At least one torchbearer is known already. Pete Weddell was named as the first Olympic torchbearer in Red Deer during the summer.

Three boys in the Greg and Debbie Olsen family of Lacombe are carrying the torch in different Canadian communities, as well.

The oldest Kolby, 19, is running in November in the Halifax area. The Dalhousie University student had his name selected in a Royal Bank of Canada contest.

In his application Kolby indicated he could run in the Halifax area.

Brady, aged 17, is running on Dec. 29 in Ontario. His name was selected in a Motivate Canada team contest geared at getting young Canadians involved in activities. He will fly to Ontario then to join his teammates for the run in the Midlands region.

Dylan, 14, was selected just a few days ago in a Coke contest in which he had to write an essay to run a portion of the Airdrie to Calgary run on Jan. 19.

“We’re very proud of them all and now if my husband and I get selected for the British Columbia portion we’ll have the country covered,” Debbie chuckled.

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