Northwest NEWS

January 28, 2002

Front Page

Valley resident carried Olympic flame in Torch Relay

by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   Those 61 individuals who had the privilege of carrying the Olympic flame through Seattle last week will remember the event as one of the high points in their lives. But the important thing to consider is they all earned the honor because of the inspiration they have provided for others.
   Alana Hansen of Duvall was one of them. During the Seattle leg of the Olympic Torch Relay the evening of Jan. 23, she carried the flame a fifth of a mile from Queen Anne Drive to Queen Anne Avenue.
   The day after, she struggled to find words to describe the experience.
   "It was unbelievable," she said, the exhilaration still evident in her voice. "One of those things you can't describe. It was wonderful. We were in vans, and leading up to where I was to pick up the torch, the excitement was building ... I got off the van and within 60 seconds the runner, a gold medal kayaker, was there to light my torch."
   About a half hour after Hansen lit the next runner's torch, Olympic gold medalist Megan Quann of Puyallup carried the flame into the Seattle Center where a two-hour celebration took place. The flame then went on to Alaska where it will travel at least one leg of its journey by dogsled.
   Hansen, an employee of General Motors, was nominated to be a torchbearer by her peers. Several months ago, Chevrolet, a sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay, requested their employees nominate deserving candidates to be part of the relay team.
   Each employee could nominate a maximum of two fellow employees using criteria which included leadership qualities, team spirit, dedication, dependability and achievement.
   Hansen was one of 18 individuals from the General Motors Western Region nominated. A letter she received from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and Chevrolet in September congratulated her on being selected, noting the inspiration she provides to others in her work and everyday life.
   The flame began its journey on Dec. 4 in Atlanta. By the time it reaches Salt Lake City it will have traveled more than 13,500 miles through 46 states. The opening ceremony for the Olympics is Feb. 8.
   Participants have the opportunity to purchase the torch they carry at a cost of $320. Hansen said she will be buying the torch she carried as a memento and hopes to demonstrate it at schools to serve as an inspiration to others.
   For Hansen, it is a memory to cherish.
   "Unbelievable," she repeated, recalling the excitement and the cheering crowds standing six to seven deep. "It was a spirited evening to say the least."