Pan Am Torch Relay ignites spirit

by Laurel Myers | June 3, 2015

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Bob Rogers lights the cauldron on stage at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre during the Pan Am Games Torch Relay community celebration. PHOTO BY LAUREL MYERS

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games torch relay is on a 41-day, 20,000-kilometre journey across Canada en route to Toronto to mark the official start of the games, July 10.

On June 2, members of the Greater Sudbury community took turns carrying the torch in 200-metre intervals across town from the Big Nickel to Bell Park, where a community celebration was held in the spirit of the Games.

Selected as Sudbury’s community torchbearer, Bob Rogers had the honour of lighting the cauldron on stage at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre in front of a crowd of spirited on-lookers.

“It was a huge privilege to be recognized as a person to represent your community,” Rogers said. “I’m blown away by it.”

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Torchbearers Nicholas Burke, 13, and Bob Rogers, 79. PHOTO BY LAUREL MYERS

The 79-year-old, who has been active in the local healthy community movement for more than 20 years, said the torch relay served two purposes.

“Celebration, which we’re having here, and inspiration. This can be an inspiration to get out … and do something to be active,” he said. “I think it’s a good example of a healthy community that is involved, caring, celebrating and being inspired to do more.”

This wasn’t Rogers first time being involved in such a grand celebration. He served as the assistant Chef de Mission for Canada’s Olympic Team at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano Japan.

“I walked into the Olympic stadium, behind the flag held by Jean-Luc Brassard (freestyle skier), ahead of the Olympic team,” he said. “And it was an inspiring moment. But this was, too — I got to hold the torch.”

Nicholas Burke was equally honoured to have been selected as one of the Nickel City’s many torchbearers.

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Sudbury Sports Magazine founding publisher Patricia Mills was one of Sudbury’s torchbearers. PHOTO BY LAUREL MYERS

“It was more than I could ever imagine,” the 13-year-old said. “I was kind of nervous because I was the youngest one there, but everyone was so kind to me. The second I had It in my hand, I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ There was just so much going through my mind at once.”

Burke is a poster child of active living. Earlier in the day, at the city’s elementary school track and field meet, the Northeastern Elementary student set records in the high jump, 200-m and 400-m events.

“I wanted to good this morning and I wanted to do good tonight,” he said. “It was so much fun.”

The Pan Am Games run July 10-26 in Toronto. Visit toronto2015.org.

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