By Jill Lieber
Over the next year or so, in the crescendo leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, you'll hear the Games' theme, Light the Flame Within, again and again.
For Ann Romney, whose husband, Mitt, is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee, those words already have taken on a deeper meaning. Utah and Deer Valley have reignited her body, her heart and her soul.
In October 1998, Ann was active in philanthropy in Boston, where Mitt was running Bain Capital, a successful leverage buyout firm. Suddenly, at age 52, she was stricken with multiple sclerosis.
''I was numb from the waist down on my right side,'' recalls Ann, who then was sitting on the boards of 10 different charities. ''I was very, very sick.''
Two months later, Ann received a phone call at home from Kem Gardner, a Utah developer and close friend, suggesting she pitch Mitt for the vacant head job of the scandal-rocked SLOC.
''That's ridiculous,'' Mitt barked, when she broached the subject.
''No, you're perfect for this,'' urged Ann, pointing out his expertise was injecting new life into failing companies.
By February 1999, Mitt was convinced. Ann moved west a month later, and that's when her healing finally began.
''In a way, Mitt wanted to take me out of Boston,'' she says. ''Everybody knew me as 'the old Ann,' not 'the new Ann.' ''
Today, the Romneys are living in their Deer Valley ski house, a sprawling log cabin, hugging the side of a mountain. Ann, whose MS went into remission four months ago, is competing in dressage, and on weekends, she and Mitt trail ride. She surprised him with a Palomino, wrapped in a blue bow, and named Trigger.
''We're able to diffuse a lot of living out here,'' says Ann, the mother
of five sons. ''It's all so very holistic.''