More MS news articles for Dec 2001

Pittsford man will carry Olympic flame

December 26, 2001
Beth Emley/Messenger Post Staff 
Toby Clark, who has multiple sclerosis, was selected after his nephew wrote an essay about him.
At 4:11 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Toby Clark of Pittsford will be able to say that he's doing something no one else in the world is doing at that exact moment.

Wearing a special warm-up suit issued by the 2002 Winter Olympics Committee, Clark will carry the torch for one-fifth of a mile past Kodak Park in Rochester and then hand it off to the next torch bearer. The torch will be on its way to Buffalo that night.

Clark said he is honored to have been selected to carry the torch. He was picked after his nephew, Michael Klein of Solon, Ohio, wrote an essay about him and submitted it to the Winter Olympics Committee in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The theme of the essay contest was to write about someone who is inspirational. Clark, who is 48, has multiple sclerosis and walks with a cane. He also uses a wheelchair, which he will ride in the night he carries the Olympic torch.

"One of the things my nephew wrote is that I'm still out there at my son's soccer and T-ball games," said Clark. He and his wife, Carla, have a son, Thomas, 6, and a daughter, Grace, 3.

"Even with MS, I still try to do everything I possibly can in my own limited fashion," Clark said.

A former insurance agency owner, Clark, who was diagnosed with MS in 1988, stopped working about a year ago because it was too physically demanding.

"It's a lot to be dealing with to have your physical health go down," he said.

These days, Clark keeps busy by playing on the computer and reading.

"I have a lot of hobbies. I'm not bored," he said.

Clark said he has been enjoying following the progress of the Olympic torch by logging onto the Web site each day.

He has also been practicing for the event.

"I've been wheeling around the neighborhood to get ready for the torch run," Clark said.

Clark said his family and some friends will cheer him on during the evening of the torch run and his wife is planning a get-together afterward to celebrate.

Unfortunately, his nephew won't be able to join them. Klein, a student at Miami University of Ohio, is currently visiting a friend in Chile.

But Clark is certainly grateful for having the chance to carry the Olympic flame, thanks to his nephew.

"It's one of the biggest honors I've had in my life, next to getting married and having children," he said.

Clark also thinks it's pretty special that for a few minutes, he'll be the only person in the world carrying the Olympic flame.

"That thought is pretty stupendous," he said.

©Brighton Pittsford Post 2001