UBC Paralympic Torchbearers

UBC torchbearers will be sharing their inspirational stories when the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay arrives on the Vancouver campus on March 11 near the Thunderbird Arena — home to the ice sledge competitions.

The 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay began its journey on March 3 with a lighting ceremony in Ottawa. Ten sites across the country, among them Quebec City, Toronto, Victoria, Squamish and Maple Ridge, and approximately 600 torchbearers, are welcoming the Paralympic flame.

After UBC’s ceremony, the torch relay will move to downtown Vancouver where a 24-hour event continues and concludes around Robson Square. As the torch is extinguished and relit at the BC Place opening ceremony on March 12, it will signal the start of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

UBC Reports asked a number of the UBC participants to describe what the Paralympic torch means to them.

Katie Jeanes is an ardent lifelong volunteer whose activities include coaching for Special Olympic Basketball and supporting Right to Play, UBC Rec’s Storm the Wall event and Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports. Keanes graduated from UBC in 2009 with a BHK in Kinesiology and Health Science and minor in Commerce. She currently works as a research coordinator at the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Function lab at Vancouver General Hospital’s Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.

“Carrying the Paralympics flame that unites the entire world in my hometown is going to be incredible. It holds a special significance for me because these athletes have had to overcome so much to be here. And to top it all off, being a torchbearer for the UBC leg of the relay makes this experience even more special because I have so many great memories here, although I’m sure this one will top the list.”

Samantha Jung will be carrying the flame as a media and student representative from UBC. A fourth-year English literature and psychology major in the Faculty of Arts, Jung has been writing frequently about UBC and the Winter Games in her role as a reporter for The Ubyssey, one of Canada’s longest running student newspapers.

“I am excited that I will get to share my story with not only my close friends, colleagues, boyfriend and family, but with students and the local community. I have been paying close attention to the Olympics and Paralympics for quite some time, and am pleased to take on a more inclusive role in the Games.”

Jennifer Krempien is an MSc candidate in human nutrition at the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. A native of St. Albert, Alberta, Krempien is a five-time Paralympian in wheelchair basketball. Her research focuses on the nutritional practices of elite athletes with spinal cord injuries.

“As an athlete, one of the most inspiring moments of each Paralympic games was to experience the torch being lit. It was a brief moment in time when there was a collective sigh within our team and the understanding that all of the hard work got us to this point was worth it and for the next few days it was about playing our game because we loved to play and wearing the maple leaf with pride. I am so excited and humbled to play a small part in carrying the flame to the athletes of these Paralympic games and honour all of their years of dedication to their sport.”

Branko Radmilovic, a staff member with UBC’s Plant Operations for 13 years, has been participating in the Just Giver Ride for Parkinson’s since 2006. Each summer, Branko bikes more than 1,000 kilometres to communities across British Columbia where he engages in public lectures and community outreach projects. His efforts have helped to raise over $186,000 for Parkinson’s Research.

“It means a tremendous amount to me to be able to carry the torch for all those that have Parkinson’s disease and for those that are affected with a life-altering challenge.”

Bonnie Sawatzky is an associate professor in the Dept. of Orthopaedics and principle investigator for ICORD, the spinal cord injury research centre. In a wheelchair herself, Sawatzky has overcome a number of personal challenges and is known for her determination. Her research explores the biomechanics of human movement, particularly in children with disabilities.

“As someone who has a disability, carrying the torch symbolizes and celebrates the remarkable abilities that individuals can demonstrate no matter what our challenges are.”

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