It was quiet, peaceful, and sleepy in B.C.’s capital city last night, the day before the launch of the longest Olympic torch relay in history. The facts of this event speak for themselves: The Olympic flame, which arrives in Victoria from Athens, Greece today, will travel nearly 28,000 miles over the next three and a half months, passing within an hour’s drive of 90 percent of Canada’s population – maybe not a difficult task (most of the population is clustered along the U.S. border), but still impressive! It covers the most ground of any torch relay route in Olympic history. About 12,000 torchbearers will carry the flame from Vancouver Island across Canada and back to the city of Vancouver using every mode of transportation found in the country: by foot, dogsled, canoe, horseback, snowmobile, skateboarder, float plane, and so on.
It’s still a top secret who the first torchbearer is going to be (stay tuned), but the last one today, number 147, who will light the cauldron in front of the city’s legislative building, is Jeneece Edroff, a 15-year-old who has suffered with neurofibromatosis type 1 since she was 3 years old and has since raised $1.5 million dollars for children’s charities through her penny drive. According to her dad, Denis Edroff, she raised $166 dollars her first year (seven years ago, no less!), $27,000 her second year, and more and more ever since. What an inspiration. This sweet, soft-spoken little girl, who just had back surgery in September, said that she raises this money for children’s charities because, “I like to and I feel like I have to. It’s kind of like people who are addicted to playing video games. It’s like an addiction to me and I don’t ever want to stop that… It’s definitely a big honor.”
The flame will arrive in Victoria around 12:30 EST and will then travel around the city, arriving back at the legislative grounds around 10:30 p.m. EST, when Edroff will light the cauldron on the celebration stage. If you’re in town, don’t miss the high-energy hoopla, which starts a little earlier (at 9 p.m.), featuring First Nations drummers, pyrotechnics, and dance, theater, visual and performance arts. This town will be peaceful and sleepy no more.