Seven locals to carry Olympic torch | SierraSun.com

Seven locals to carry Olympic torch

Lara Mullin, Sierra Sun

The last time the Olympic flame burned in the United States was during the 1996 Atlanta summer games. In December the torch will once again burn in Atlanta for the first leg of a 65-day tour of American cities on the way to Salt Lake City.

Passing through the Tahoe region on Jan. 20 and 21, the torch will be carried by more than 35 residents from Truckee, Tahoe City, Incline Village and the surrounding area.

The torchbearers were selected by the International Olympic Committee for their embodiment of the Olympic spirit through community service and participation, or personal triumphs.

Seven individuals from the Town of Truckee will represent the United States as they cover two-tenths of a mile along the torch route, wearing an Olympic warm-up suit: Tyler Buschmann, Ronald Kato, Bob Horvath, Dana and Jeff Hunting, Patty Robbins and Tammie Thompson.

Tyler Buschmann, a former Tahoe-Truckee High School student, overcame considerable adversity last year as he skateboarded across the country from San Francisco to New York City. His trip not only earned him national recognition, but also a torchbearer nomination for his determination.

Retired U.S. Marine and former air traffic controller Ronald Kato was nominated by the Truckee-Tahoe Civil Air Patrol cadets, a youth program that he started in Truckee last year.

Bob Horvath will be carrying the torch for his participation with Angel Flights, a service for non-ambulatory patients and Flying Doctors, a humanitarian program that services the poor in Mexican communities.

“I was very surprised when I found out I had been nominated. My wife wrote an essay about my contributions to the community with my plane and then informed me that I had been selected.”

Horvath is an engineer in Truckee and recreational pilot.

Dana and Jeff Hunting are the only couple from the Truckee area to be selected to carry the torch. Jeff will hand off the torch to his wife, his source of steadfast support after a massive stroke and brain surgery in 2000 left Jeff clinging to life.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime honor. We both realize how precious life is now and are so excited to participate in the Olympics,” said Hunting.

Patty Robbins will be carrying the light of the Olympics as a symbol of her incredible strength, and in remembrance of her son Bryan Paul Richmond, who died last February in an avalanche in the West Gully between Squaw Valley USA and Alpine Meadows ski resorts.

A breast cancer survivor, mother of two and entrepreneur, Tammie Thompson nominated herself for the honor of carrying the torch as it passes through the area.

“Sometimes the daily things are what makes your life extraordinary,” said Thompson. “Loving the mountains, my children, and just enjoying life everyday is what the Olympic spirit means to me.”