Features

Two local heroes to carry Olympic torch

Lawrence Schuler Jon McKanna

Lawrence Schuler, left, of Woodinville, and Jon McKanna of Monroe, hero torchbearers of the Olympic flame.
Photos courtesy of United Way of King County.

torchbearers by Karen Diefendorf
Among the 47 state residents honored in a special ceremony Feb. 15 at the Space Needle were Lawrence Schuler from Woodinville and Jon McKanna of Monroe. Schuler and McKanna were proclaimed community heroes by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) and the United Way of King County.
   In recognition, each will have the honor of carrying the Olympic flame as it passes through Seattle May 8 on its way to Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The torchbearers were chosen because they reflect the Olympic ideals in their contribution to helping others.
   Schuler was nominated for the honor by his 13-year-old daughter Cheyanne. She filled out the form, and her brother Travis, 14, wholeheartedly agreed with the idea.
   According to his children, Schuler, 40, "does it all." A single father, he has worked the "graveyard" shift at Hughes Printing in order to be there during the day for his kids.
   When the family moved to the Cottage Lake area, Schuler would still drive Cheyanne and Travis back to their former school, Wellington, where their friends were. This continued until both were in junior high at Leota. Following band practice, he could always be counted on to be there for a ride home.
   Although he's always taken an interest in children's activities and sports, Schuler has been especially active in Little League, supporting both Travis' teams and others. "He's always been a coach, and now is a player's agent," Cheyanne said. Now that Cheyanne is playing softball, Schuler has another avid interest.
   Besides the day-to-day concerns of raising a family and working a full-time job, Schuler has managed to be a ski instructor for 4-year-olds at Ski Acres. And he also works for his teaching certificate at Everett Community College, with plans to transfer to City University.
   Jon McKanna, at 15, was the youngest torch bearer to be chosen. He was nominated by Bellevue Christian High School and its athletic director, Mr. Wilson.
   Born with spinal bifida, McKanna has not let his wheelchair stop him. He has become a role model for everyone, not only those with disabilities.
   Jon, the son of Steve and Kathy McKanna, is the youngest of three children. Kathy speculates that watching his sister and brother take part in sports led Jon to become very competitive instead of giving into his disability. He is successful probably because he wants it more than they did, his mother said. "I want to be just like everybody," McKanna said.
   He's gone much further than that, and it's a good thing he didn't give up. The Bellevue Christian sophomore not only takes part in wide variety of sports, but holds national honors and records in many of them.
   He competes in track and field and received national ranking at the Junior Nationals (18-and- under) in the javelin, shot put, and discus events. Further, he is a nationally-ranked mono-skier and wheelchair racer. Water skiing, basketball, and swimming are other sports in which Jon excels.
   When he was selected as a hero torchbearer, he says he was surprised. "Athletics are good exercise and fun to do and a good way to meet people," he said.
   And meet people he certainly has. His participation in national meets has already taken him to Florida, Colorado, Ohio, and Oklahoma. His plans for the future include competing in the 2000 Olympics and swimming in the '96 event.