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Monday, March 08, 2010 - All over Canada

Olympic fever hits home with Intact torch runners

“Holy cow; I am actually doing this.”

That was Intact Insurance employee Jamey Frank’s first thought when it was announced that she had been one of the 12,000 Canadians selected to carry the Olympic Torch in this year’s run.

A Claims representative based in Calgary, Jamey registered for a contest sponsored by RBC in September of 2008. It wasn’t until after August 2009 that it became real, when Jamey learned that she had been selected to carry the torch when it came to Calgary.

And she wasn’t alone. Her family was travelling from Saskatoon to watch as she ran her 300 metre leg of the run and her great aunt and uncle planned to watch her on live feed from Mexico. Friends and colleagues got up early and braved the weather as Jamey carried the torch down Calgary’s Kensington Road, between 20th and 21st street N.W.

“I had the outfit at home all laid out and ready to put on,” she said, “and I already bought the stand – (the torch) which will be on display at my house once I finished.”

Jamey Frank is not the only Intact employee who was chosen to run with the Olympic torch. There are two other employees: Danistan Saverimuthu, a lawyer from Quebec; and Kevin Myketyn, a Claims representative from Halifax.

Danistan Saverimuthu, Legal Counsel, Montreal, PQ

Danistan’s reasons for signing up “were conventional,” he said. “I’m a runner, so the chance to run with the torch made sense.” But Danistan loved having the opportunity to learn why others participated.

At the time of this article, he had already completed his leg of the run, along Montreal’s Lakeshore Boulevard from Avenue Martin to Avenue Saint-Charles. He had been transported along the trail in a shuttle bus with the other contest winners. And as they drove, they got to learn why the others were there. “Some participated as torch bearers because their relatives had run (with the torch) in the past, and had since passed away. Another was there to bring awareness to a cause. Another person was looking forward to sharing their Olympic torchbearer experience with local schools.”

At the briefing before the race, the organizers had explained that the runners could expect to be “treated like rock stars,” he laughed. “I don’t know what that’s like, but I took their word for it.” Strangers asked to have their pictures taken with him. Children filled schoolyards to cheer as their shuttle passed. The streets were lined with thousands of people, cheering and screaming. “The crowd was crazy.”

What really resonated with Danistan, however, was that he had the chance to be personally involved with the Olympics, and have a closer connection to our speed skating sponsorship, he said.

Kevin Myketyn, Claims Interim, Halifax, NS

This sense of involvement is an undercurrent in Kevin Myketyn’s story as well. He was able to run with the torch because he attended ACTIVATE 2009, a national conference aimed at improving physical activity of youth aged 12 – 19. As a past delegate, he had the chance to run with alumni of this conference through sponsors Motivate Canada and Coca Cola.

Kevin, along with 19 other Team ACTIVATE runners, closed the celebration ceremony in Midland, Ontario “by carrying the torch off stage and en route to Barrie. “Because we were running as a team, each member carried the torch for 50 metres instead of the traditional 300 metres.

“The entire experience was one that words cannot describe. I’ve played sports my whole life – from hockey and lacrosse to football and track & field – however, this will go down as my greatest memory of sport. The feeling you get when you raise the torch high in the air, waving to the throngs of townspeople that crowded the streets, is something I will always remember. It was one of those moments in life that made you proud to be Canadian!”

Pictured above, from the left: Kevin Myketyn is second from the torch bearer

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