Olympic Torchbearers

Come July 22, all eyes will turn toward London and the 2012 Olympic Games. We will cheer on local favorites like Natalie Coughlin, Misty Mae-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

You may be surprised to learn that our Team In Training program has a special history with the Olympics.

In 2002, not one but three members of the LLS family participated in the Olympic Torch relay: then Executive Director, Vicki Weiland, Team In Training Coach, Alphonzo Jackson and Team In Training Honored Teammate and participant, Louie Bonpua.

TNT Honored Teammate and Alum, Louie Bonpua, with the 2002 Olympic Torch.

Louie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) at the age of 32. Determined to show that you can still live, even when diagnosed with a grave illness, Louie joined Team In Training in 1999 with the goal of completing a triathlon. In 2001, he took it all the way and finished Ironman Canada in 2001 with only 3.5 minutes left before the official cutoff.

Louie was asked to carry the Olympic Torch in January 2002. At the time his condition had deteriorated, but he was determined to “bust out of the hospital” and complete his leg of the 2002 Olympic Torch relay at Crissy Field.

The Olympic Torch relay is a relatively new tradition that started in 1936. It starts with a ceremony in Olympia, Greece, at the site of the original Olympic Games. The flame is lit using the sun’s rays on a parabolic mirror, placed in an urn and transported to the ancient stadium. The first runner receives it and starts the journey leading up to the Opening Ceremonies.

The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay is currently underway with a total of 8,000 inspirational Torchbearers carrying the flame. On June 1st, Nikhil Parikh represented the Bay Area, LLS and TNT when he ran with the Torch in Birkenhead, England.

“I am proud to carry on the tradition that Louie started,” he said.

Nikhil completed his first triathlon in September with the TEAM and raised more than $6,000 for LLS. He attributes much of his success to the support of his colleagues. Not only did they support him with donations and matching gifts, but several, being athletes themselves, shared training and nutrition tips.

“The support I received from my colleagues exemplifies the spirit of the Olympics and what it means to be part of a team,” says Nikhil.

And being part of the TEAM, means finding your inner athlete and being a life-saving hero to Bay Area blood cancer patients.

Don’t sit idly on the couch this July watching the Olympics! Get out there, get active and live it! Teams are forming now for the Winter season. Visit teamintraining.org/sf for a complete event lineup.


About Megan Kilkenny

LLS Sr. Director, Marketing Communication Team In Training Alum Three-time Nike Women's Half Marathon finisher
This entry was posted in Honored Patient, Team In Training and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s