No ordinary run

Frances Casey ’87 carries the Olympic Torch

It was a short stretch in a long relay, but the 300 meters that Frances Casey ’87 carried the Olympic torch was enough to make her a celebrity for a day. Flanked by bagpipers playing “Scotland the Brave,” Casey ran through Madeira Park, along the British Columbian Sunshine Coast, about 60 miles north of Vancouver. Her moment in the Olympic sun came on Feb. 4—day 98 of the 106-day, 46,000-kilometer torch relay across Canada. The trek is the longest ever to be contained within a host country to the Olympics.

Clad in the official white Olympic jogging suit and nubbed red gloves, Casey was a celebrity at the pancake breakfast in Madeira Park’s community hall that morning. She was swarmed by children requesting autographs and photos before breakfast even started. On torch day, she discovered, “You’re a rock star.” (One of the kids kept touching the uniform, asking if it was “highly flammable.”) When the torch was handed off to her and she stepped into the street, she was greeted by a barrage of photographers. For Casey, the relay was far more than a spectacle, however. She found herself “alternating between pouring tears and the absolute biggest smile,” she says. “Carrying the torch gives us community. It gives us pride.”

Originally from Eureka, Calif., Casey and her family moved to the Vancouver area nine years ago when her husband took a job there. She was one of 12,000 chosen to carry the torch for the 2010 Olympics. On her application, she highlighted her volunteer service with the local Catholic Church and food bank, along with the school volunteer work that a dedicated mother of two takes on. (She has two daughters, one in seventh grade and the other in 10th; the elder is considering applying to SCU.)

Casey traces the roots of her community involvement to her days on the Mission campus, where she organized student activities with Jeanne Rosenberger, who now serves as SCU’s vice provost for student life. “Santa Clara instilled a sense of giving back,” Casey says, “making every day exciting and never losing a sense of family. It showed me the path to where I am.”

With so many people doing the honors, the torch had quite a range of carriers. Just before Casey’s turn, a 16-year-old high school football player ran a stretch; Casey handed off to the man who designed the relay route through British Columbia. The epic journey even inspired one man, Pierre Luc of Quebec, to quit his job, sell his apartment, and set out to compile and promote a book of torchbearers’ stories. He’ll be rollerblading across the country to promote the book.

Molly Gore ’10

post-image Flame aloft: Frances Casey '87. Photo: Vancouver Olympic Committee
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