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Alabama Baptists among runners carrying Olympic torchcomment (0)

January 3, 2002

By Malinda Hallman McGill

Three Alabama Baptists were selected to carry the 2002 Winter Olympic torch on a leg of its trip to the site of the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, which will be held Feb. 8-24.

Rick and Shelia Ellison, members of Vaughn Forest Baptist Church, Montgomery, took the torch Dec. 4 through a portion of Atlanta, Ga., after the torch was delivered from a plane to a ceremony in Olympic Park in Atlanta. The Ellisons were among the first to carry the torch on its 13,500-mile journey to Utah.

Brent Rawson, minister of youth for First Baptist Church, Satsuma, ran the torch Dec. 90 in Biloxi, Miss. A marathon runner, Rawson said he was shocked about being chosen and was excited to participate.

“They were looking for people who inspire others,” Rawson said. “I guess the Lord saw fit for me to be chosen to do this. It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Ellison, who recently accepted a position with the Sunday School office at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, was chosen by the Olympic Committee to carry the torch because he donated a kidney to his wife in 1993. Mrs. Ellison was chosen by Chevrolet, an Olympic sponsor, because of her work with cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary diseases with the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. She also volunteers for the Alabama Kidney Foundation and has been on mission trips to Central America.

The Ellisons, who are currently moving from Gardendale to Montgomery, said carrying the torch was an act of worship for them and the “perfect way to celebrate” their 30th wedding anniversary.

“We were about the 20th couple to do a spousal transplant, and we were worshiping God for all He did for us during that time,” Ellison said. “Her kidney works perfectly, and we give praise to God for that.”

The Ellisons also appreciated the patriotism surrounding carrying the Olympic torch.

“I was (especially) patriotic due to Sept. 11,” Ellison said. “We not only represented Alabama, but we represented our country.”

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