December 29, 2001
SARAH J. ALLEN/Messenger Post Staff
Several people from around the region will take part in the Olympic torch relay today and tomorrow.
To her friends and family, there is no one more appropriate than Michelle Alvaro to help carry the Olympic torch.
"She's really an exemplary person," said Betsey Lee-Reib-some, her friend of four years.
Alvaro, executive director of the Partnership for Ontario County, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in January. Less than two months later, a group of friends and family members nominated her, by writing short essays on the Coca-Cola Co.'s Web site, to carry the torch.
"She has such a multi-tasked job," Lee-Reibsome said. "She works with children of all ages, adults. She does all of it with MS. She doesn't let it get her down, which is the whole spirit of the Olympics."
Alvaro, of Canandaigua, was one of seven local residents chosen to join the 11,500 other torch-bearers who will carry the Olympic symbol through 250 U.S. cities and 46 states for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games.
Alvaro is joined as a torch-bearer by Tamara Crafts of Macedon, Thomas Doty of Naples, Marlana Howard and Kerrie Frisinger of Geneva, Hobart College sophomore Anthony Patrone of Lackawan-na and William Smith College senior Amy Dundas of Geneva.
Each will carry the torch today or tomorrow for two-tenths of a mile through different parts of the state.
The torch run kicked off Dec. 4 in Atlanta and is expected to wrap up Feb. 7 in Salt Lake City. This year's torch will travel more than 13,500 miles across the country. New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and rescue workers who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks are among those carrying the torch.
Alvaro was notified in September that she was chosen.
"I was excited," she said. "l didn't really care where I carried it. I'd go anywhere to do it."
Alvaro will carry the torch today through parts of Utica. "I told people I'm briskly walking, but I'll probably end up running because everyone is hounding me to," she said with a chuckle.
Hobart and William Smith colleges were given the opportunity for students from the greater Geneva area and the greater Buffalo area to participate in a selection process to choose individuals who would carry the torch.
Taylor Barnes, a seventh-grade Marcus Whitman student, will be a support runner - part of the group that runs with the torch bearer - tomorrow when the torch passes through Seneca Falls. "He's pretty excited about the event," said his dad, Todd Barnes, whose employer, Farnsworth Chevrolet, is among the Chevrolet dealerships sponsoring the relay.
Dundas and Patrone were chosen through an essay contest, the topic being a person who inspired the writer. Dundas wrote about her mother, Donna Dundas, of Geneva and Patrone wrote about his grandmother, Catherine Packard, of Lackawanna, who died in August at the age of 85.
"It's a really special accomplishment especially because of my grandmother," said Patrone, who is proud of his grandmother's ability to raise eight children after his grandfather died young. "I feel special to be chosen."
The tradition of the pre-Olympic Games torch run was revived for the modern games in 1936. Once the Olympic flame is ignited, it is kept in a lantern that travels with the relay.
"My friends keep asking me 'Are you
nervous? Are you going to drop it (the torch)?,'" Dundas said. "I don't
think I'll drop it."
© Daily Messenger 2002
© Daily Messenger 2002