GRANTON — You would be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic torch bearer than Stacey Saunders.
The Stellarton resident led the local portion of the Special Olympics of Nova Scotia torch run at the Michelin plant and loved every minute of it.
Carrying the torch holds a special place in her heart, Saunders said.
“It’s such an honour, it’s more than an honour…It means to me the power that our athletes have to show our light and true colours and let the people know we are strong.”
Athletes, coaches and supporters accompanied the torch onto the Michelin grounds for inspirational speeches in front of a very large group of employees.
Saunders, a track and field athlete, showed her spirit of teamwork and togetherness and sharing as she offered to let other runners carry the torch during the run, but they let her keep the honour.
Trudy Teed, Michelin personnel manager, said the gathering celebrates Special Olympics Nova Scotia and Special Olympics Pictou County.
“The torch always signifies the opening or closing of the Olympic Games, which is a supreme meeting of athletes to showcase their skills. We want to run with the athletes to let them know that we are there to support them in their training, their wins, their losses, their teamwork, their runs and their memories.”
Michelin has a strong connection with Special Olympics and was designated a founding partner for its continuous support of the program for the last 31 years.
She passed along strong words of encouragement before handing the microphone over to Terry Richardson.
“Good luck to all the athletes,” Teed said. “Work hard and try your best. We are in awe of your determination and skills. Don’t forget to have a whole bunch of fun along the way.”
Richardson has been involved with Special Olympics since the 1980s. He spoke of his “genuine appreciation for the athletes” and how he cherishes the interaction with all of them.
These provincial Summer Games stand as a prelude to the national Games which are being held later this summer at Antigonish. For a comment on that, the last word goes to Saunders.
“I’m beyond excited, I can’t wait. I’m over the moon excited. It’s the best feeling in the whole world to be part of Team Nova Scotia. I actually have my Team Nova Scotia T-shirt on underneath this (torch run) shirt.”
Stellarton’s Stacey Saunders led the Special Olympics of Nova Scotia Torch Run at Michelin prior to the Summer Games. Michelin has supported Special Olympics for 31 years. (Ray Burns photo)