By: Daniel Perry
Tears flooded his eyes as he rounded Gage Park’s outdoor skating rink with the Olympic Torch fastened to the special adaptor fastened on the front of his hockey sledge. Brampton’s final torchbearer made every Canadian proud on Dec. 18.
Ryan Bennett admits he was overwhelmed with emotions as he circled the track twice and was transported to his wheelchair to light the ceremonial Olympic cauldron.
“The whole experience was amazing and something I will always cherish,” said a winded Bennett following the festivities. “I was so happy to have all my family, friends, sledge hockey teammates and the whole community here to support me. To have 10,000 people chanting my name when I was up on stage was something I’ll never forget. I felt so proud sledging the torch around on the ice and then lighting the cauldron on stage from my wheelchair.”
Bennett was also very proud to be the first person in Olympic history to have the Torch attached to their hockey sledge. He knows the additional exposure for sports for people with disabilities will lead to positive things.
“I’ve never been exposed to that much media at once before,” said Bennett, Olympic Torchbearer #204. “It was so overwhelming and emotional, but just amazing. This was a great day for Brampton, but Canada as well. To be the first person to carry the Torch by Sledge was an honor and this shows how much Canada supports all of its athletes, even those with disabilities. This truly was a chance of a lifetime.”
The Olympic flame will continue its trek across Canada until it is used to light the official Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver on Feb. 12, 2010. The Olympic games will begin shortly after the Torch finishes its journey, with the Opening Ceremonies beginning at 6:00pm the same evening.