My steps along the Path of Northern Lights began months ago. When it was first announced the Coke and RBC were the two presenting partners of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, I was excited and proud to have a connection to this event that unites our country in celebrating the excellence of our athletes. You see, I work at RBC, and our corporate pride is bursting in bringing the Olympic flame throughout our nation. Employees are limited in entering contests, and so I knew that if I was to win the honour of being a torch bearer, I could better my odds by entering the contest created by Coca-Cola on their icoke.ca website. It was August when I learned that I had been selected as one of Coke’s torchbearers, based on my submission highlighting my commitment to leading an environmentally sensitive lifestyle. Thank-you Coca-Cola for this opportunity.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, as the Olympic flame that was ignited by the sun’s rays in a ceremony in Greece made its way towards Nelson, I was being briefed by the torch run co-ordinator on the logistics of the relay. How we would get to our starting point, what we should expect and how to correctly hold the torch. But the best was still coming. Our co-ordinator began telling us about our torch, proudly made by Canada’s own Bombardier, hand assembled and signed inside by their technicians. She told us about the relay route, how the flame passes within one hour drive of 90 per cent of all Canadians, and the untold inspiration that it brings to the families that line the streets, the children that may become our next Olympic stars.
It was that message that I remembered as I was dropped off by my shuttle at the Rosemont Overpass. As I waved to my fellow torchbearers, I turned to the group waiting, and saw many familiar faces, and red mittens waving! Then I looked down, and saw the children lining the streets, with wide eyes. I invited them over to have their photo taken with the torch, and was rewarded with smiles. RBC and Coke’s cheer squads rolled past, everyone’s excitement building. My torch was activated, and I stepped into position to accept the flame. After a high five and a wave, I began my leg of the relay. My family was watching, my two daughters waving their hand-made torches and cheering, bubbling with excitement, my oldest running along to see my whole run. As I rounded Vancouver Street, I could see the lights of the Orange Bridge below, and the next torchbearer ahead. A few more strides and I stopped to pass the flame, those few seconds that both torches burn, repeated across our country the 82 days previous. The Olympic flame may only burn in one vessel at time, and so my torch is extinguished as I watch the flame run off on it’s path thru Nelson’s streets. A quick goodbye to my family and cheering squad and I step back onto the shuttle that would bring me downtown.
My fellow torchbearers cheer as I step on the shuttle, everyone glowing with excitement. Warmed by glow of the flame, and the spirit of the torch relay. In my group was a nephew and uncle, each to carry the flame. There was a diabetic, committed to living active, a new mother to a days-old infant, a man who was making the medals for the games, and one torchbearer, who shared with us the devastating news that she would likely lose her leg in the coming months. Everyone of us came to the relay from a different place, yet are forever united in this experience. The fuel canisters are removed from the torches, their role in carrying the flame is complete.
When I joined the celebration already underway downtown, I was immediately impressed by the crowd who had gathered. The night was still young, as we all celebrated as a community.
— Crystal Browne, torchbearer Day 83