A piece of the Olympic spirit visited the campus of Rose-Hulman
Institute of Technology and the city of Terre Haute on Jan. 8 when
the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay passed through the city on the way to
its final destination, the Salt Lake Olympic Cauldron in
Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium.
Dressed in matching white wind-breaker jackets, long sleeve
T-shirts, wind pants, fleece hats and gloves, the torchbearers
shared personal stories of triumph, courage and victory while
preparing for the adventure that awaited them. The 11,500
torchbearers nation-wide were nominated by friends and family
because they are inspirational and courageous individuals who
represent the spirit of America.
Their journey began early Tuesday morning at Moench Hall and
continued into downtown Terre Haute until noon.
The stories of inspiration range from a six-year-old born
with brain injuries who inspires a runner to overcome terrible odds
and move forward, to stories of friendships that have lasted many
Debbie Robison of Decatur, Ill. was nominated to be a
torchbearer by her nephew. Robison was diagnosed with ovarian
cancer in January 2000 and was re-diagnosed in 2001. She dedicated
her run to ovarian cancer research.
"Being nominated is a great honor, a surprise and unbelievable
all at the same time. I'm very excited to be here today," Robison
Robinson, Ill. native Elleanor Laswell, who is a retired special
education teacher and works with the mentally handicapped, agrees
"I think being a part of the relay is great. After hearing all
the inspirational stories this morning, I realize that I'm in good
company. It brings tears to my eyes to hear about the difficulties
these people have faced and how they have overcome and triumphed,"
A Rose-Hulman alumnus also helped in the festivities by carrying
the torch through downtown Terre Haute. Carl Troike is a 1988
Rose-Hulman graduate and is a production manager at Cabot Corp. in
"My mom briefly mentioned she had nominated me last February,
but I blew it off thinking it was very nice of her to do, but what
have I really done to deserve the honor? To say the least, I was
very surprised when the Airborne Express person came to my door
asking me to sign for a package from Nebraska. I was even more
surprised when I opened the letter and it was from Coca-Cola
informing me of my nomination," Troike said.
Three days earlier, alumnus Warren Mickens, a 1977 mechanical
engineering graduate, carried the flame on Poplar Avenue near
downtown Wilmette, Ill. Mickens was nominated for the honor
by Lucent Technologies. At that time, he was vice president
of network planning and engineering for Ameritech and had just
spent a long year improving the performance of the Ameritech
"The experience was very emotional," Mickens said.
"It has to be uplifting to find yourself running the streets of
Chicagoland and having every man, woman, child and dog in the
neighborhood come out and cheer."
The most moving part of the run, Mickens recalled, was hearing
the other runners share stories of how they were nominated.
"There are some very special people in this country who just refuse
to surrender in some very tough circumstances. The
survivors of cancer and other major illnesses were the most
Feelings of excitement filled the air as the Olympic caravan
entered the campus and the Olympic Flame was proudly displayed. The
first torch was lit and the 34th day of the 65 day, 13,500 mile,
46-state adventure that carries the torch from Olympia, Greece to
Salt Lake City, Utah began.
After leaving Terre Haute, the flame traveled through Illinois
and Missouri on its way to Utah. The journey that began in Atlanta,
Ga. on Dec. 4 continued cross country until Feb. 8 when the torch
arrived in Salt Lake City for the Opening Ceremony. In addition to
being carried by 11, 500 torchbearers, the Olympic Flame traveled
via automobile, airplane, train, boat, dogsled, skier, horse-drawn
sleigh, snowmobile, ice skater and covered wagon during its
historic adventure out West.