DENVER, Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - Denver-native Buzz Calkins has been selected by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) and Chevrolet Motor Division to carry the Olympic Torch in pre-Olympic festivities for the 2002 Winter Games. Calkins, a...
DENVER, Wednesday, October 3, 2001 - Denver-native Buzz Calkins has been selected by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) and Chevrolet Motor Division to carry the Olympic Torch in pre-Olympic festivities for the 2002 Winter Games. Calkins, a six-time Indianapolis 500 starter and 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion, will carry the torch as it makes its way across Colorado to Salt Lake City, Utah. The three-time marathon participant- two New York and one Chicago Marathons- will carry the specially designed torch on January 30th, day 56 of the 65-day relay. Friend and Buzz Calkins Fan Club president Jill Pochik nominated Calkins for the honor. Pochik, of Walled Lake, Michigan, chose Calkins for the inspiration that he gives through not only his racing but also his charity work and dedication to education.
"I am still a little stunned by the whole thing," remarked the 30-year old Indy Racing driver. "I have been fortunate to do some great things in my life and this is definitely right at the top of the list. This is such an honor and I want to thank Jill [Pochik] and the Torch Relay selection committee for this opportunity. It would mean a lot if the country hadn't gone through the events of September 11th but since everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks I think it will be especially meaningful. I think that the pride of being an American will be overwhelming over the next couple of months going into and through the Olympics and the Torch Relay is probably the best way to display this pride. This is one of the greatest honors of my life and I am looking forward to representing the United States, Colorado, my family and Indy Racing as I carry the Torch."
The nomination required a 50 to 100-word essay describing how Buzz encourages others to greater achievement and overcoming adversity through his work with charity Natural Ties, of which he a member of the board of directors. She also explained how Buzz is an inspiration to not only his community but to the world in his pursuit for excellence on the track and in the classroom as an MBA recipient from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. It was determined by the committee that Calkins more than met the lofty criteria, which embody the 'inspirational spirit of the Olympic Movement.'
"I have never met anyone quite like Buzz," said Pochik. "He has every reason to be arrogant and uncaring but he isn't. He is open and friendly to everyone and he works so hard to go that extra-mile for people without ever asking why or what is in it for him. As a matter of fact, he works to keep his good deeds quiet instead of, like a lot of people, advertising them. I don't think even Buzz knows how much he inspires people. When I heard that they had accepted his nomination I was so happy for him. This is a great way for a lot of us to say 'thank you' for all he has done for so many."
The Olympic Torch will be carried through 46 states on its way to Salt Lake City. The Torch will be lit in Athens, Greece and make its way to the United States where it will begin the Relay in Atlanta. The Olympic Torch will be carried over 13,500 miles during the journey and will culminate in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies on February 8, 2002.
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