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Posted 27 Apr 2002   For week ended February 08, 2002
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 09Mar02
By Vickie Speek
Download to My Handheld!

Mormon Volunteers From Almost Everywhere Help Olympics

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Church members from all over the country are taking many different roles during the Olympics. It seems to be a special thrill for the Mormon faithful everywhere to see the city and state created by the church play host to the world.

Members are serving as torchbearers and runners, service volunteers, attendees and athletes. The Olympics are also bringing back memories of Games in the past.

When the torch arrives in Salt Lake City on Friday, it will have been carried and been escorted by a number of members. Cameron Randall, 16, and his brother Bryan, 14, of Buena Vista, Colorado were nominated to carry the torch by their mother, Madelon.

Cameron was born with a learning disability and then lost the fingers of his left hand in an accident. Today, he's on the honor roll and the student council at Buena Vista High School, runs on the cross country team and will go on his Mormon mission before heading to college. Bryan is a budding artist.

Margo Hields, of Vail Colorado ran the Olympic torch for herself and a 13-year-old girl named Tasha who died in a motorcycle accident eight years ago. Hields, who had lived 30 years with a congenital heart defect, received Tasha's heart in an organ transplant.

Thousands of Church members have also answered the call to serve and to help make the Olympics a success. Patricia and Michael Klemann of Columbus, Ohio will be working at the media center where she will be a driver for reporters working on news stories for English-speaking outlets and he will work with Russian-speaking journalists.

Gerald Christensen of Pocatello, Idaho will work as an assistant to the Canadian Olympic Committee at the Olympics in Salt Lake City. At any time, he could be ushering an athlete to a medal ceremony, picking up a dignitary at the airport, or carting sponsors to an event. He still speaks the French he learned as a missionary in France in 1968, a characteristic that suits him well, as he was matched with the Canadians.

Seileen Mullen Murphy, 39, of Denver who worked for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, will parade White House staff around and show them where the money for the Olympics went.

Other members of the LDS Church are working in such volunteer positions as keeping the ski runs clean, translating foreign languages, security and even as bus drivers. One woman has volunteered to massage the jitters of athletes and help them relax.

All volunteers must pay for their own food and lodging as well as their own transportation there and back. Many are using their own vacation time to come and serve during the Olympics.

Then there's the athletes who will participate in the games and the members who will be spectators. At least two Mormon athletes will be competing.

Steven Grover, a Colorado doctor, plans to take his wife and oldest three children to the opening and closing ceremonies and other Olympic events. Grover said this Olympics will be especially meaningful to his family because his great-great grandfather was a member of the original Mormon pioneer company of 143 individuals who crossed the Plains to the valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847 with Brigham Young.

"We will be thinking about not only the sacrifices of the athletes who are participating in the games, but also about the sacrifices of the early pioneers who settled the Rocky Mountains," Grover said.

The Olympics have also brought back memories to two older members of the church. As young missionaries in Europe, Rudger Jones, 87, and LeGrande Spilsbury, 88, received special permission to attend the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin.

Neither of the two know exactly why they were the only LDS missionaries allowed to attend the '36 Games, but the two seemed to be lucky. The missionaries' luck almost ran out, though, on the day American Jesse Owens was to compete. The two realized they only had one ticket to the day's events - so Spilsbury had to sneek in.

Though his conscience is still not entirely comfortable with the circumstances, Spilsbury admits he was "mighty tickled" to be able to attend the event. The two missionaries sat directly across the stadium from Adolf Hitler.

Both men now agree the only disagreeable part of the entire experience was having to turn and salute Hitler. "The most inspiring part of it was watching Owens," Spilsbury said.


Local Mormons Volunteer at Olympics
Columbus OH Dispatch 1Feb02 P2

Volunteers flocking to Salt Lake Games
Denver CO Post 3Feb02 P2
By Allison Sherry: Denver Post Staff Writer
Coloradans eager to take on tasks

Church answering bell for Games
Denver CO Post 3Feb02 S4
By Electa Draper: Four Corners Bureau
Mormons faithfully help cause

Hoosiers taking off from school, work to witness spectacle in Salt Lake City
Indianapolis IN Star 3Feb02 P2
By David Mannweiler

Berlin Games 'mind-boggling'
Deseret News 2Feb02 P2
By Jeff Oliver: Deseret News staff writer

Torch crosses Continental Divide
Denver CO Rocky Mountain News 2Feb02 P2
By Dick Foster, News Southern Bureau
Olympic flame toted 180 miles on Springs-Vail leg

Local man couldn't pass up Olympics
Pocatello ID State Journal 30Jan02 P2
By Brady Slater: Journal Sports Editor
Second language helps him land a role


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