By Jasmine Franklin
Out of 12,000 lucky Canadians and 24,000 hands that will carry the Olympic flame across the nation, four of those hands will belong to Ponoka residents.
Lori Kirchner, 49, and Ashley Wilton, 15, will represent Ponoka in their journey of carrying the Olympic torch Jan. 15 and 16 — thanks to the help of Ponoka’s RBC branch.
“I’m honored to be a part of the Olympic experience,” said Kirchner. “I’m hoping to purchase the torch and keep in Ponoka.”
On Nov. 30, RBC introduced two local torch bearers who entered an RBC competition in which they explained how they would host a better Canada through pledging to teach young people and volunteer throughout the community.
“I’m so excited,” said Wilton. “My cousin carried the torch in PEI so this is pretty cool and everyone in the community has really supported me.”
Kirchner and Wilton thanked RBC for the opportunity and were presented with a Olympic scarf from Ponoka branch manager Sharon Mitchell.
“We are pleased to announce Lori and Ashley as a 2010 Olympic torch bearers and to recognize that their commitment will help build a lasting legacy for Ponoka and Canada,” Mitchell said. “(They) are an inspiration to us all and demonstrate how each of us can make a difference.”
Mayor Larry Henkelman also showed his gratitude.
“It’s a pleasure to have these people representing Ponoka for the Olympics,” Henkelman said. “It’s really great.”
Wilton will run with the torch somewhere between Edmonton and Red Deer Jan. 15 and Kirchner between Red Deer and Medicine Hat Jan. 16.
Kirchner announced she will be 50 years old when she carries the torch; marking a great beginning to the second half of her life and she is proud to represent the 50 plus age group.
“When I signed up I felt lucky,” said Kirchner. “I will honor the journey of children and the spirit of each child within — I feel like a kid every day but I think this will be the perfect way to start the second part of my life.”
Wilton also spoke about her excitement and what her involvement in the relay means to her.
“I am honored to be part of something as extraordinary as the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay,” Wilton said. “As it gets closer it feels more real.”
The Olympic Flame will come through Ponoka Jan. 15. The flame began its journey to Vancouver on Oct. 30 and over 106 days will travel 45,000 kilometres, reaching more than 1,000 communities. It will end in British Columbia on Feb. 12, 2010 with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, signifying the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.